I had no idea what breast cancer looked like in full effect, but I didn’t expect it to be like that.
To be sure, Katy had what she herself calls a "perfect storm" of circumstances when she received her diagnosis. Equal to what she was able to do to steel herself physically through the whole process, she attributes her successful outcome to the incredible support structure she had from the very start. Family and friends jumped into full reconnaissance mode, tackling all the learning and scheduling of her treatment regimen. There was a lumpectomy, followed by radiation, followed by chemotherapy. Though there were side effects to be sure, caregivers shared advice that helped mitigate the discomfort. And every time we spoke, Katy reiterated how well things were going for her. She was a phenomenon the whole way through. I didn’t know someone facing such a hugely life-altering circumstance could face it with such aplomb. But Katy did.
She became a hero of mine because of it.
Reading this back, it almost sounds like I’m trying to sell you on the idea of breast cancer as a peak life experience.
Believe me, folks: that’s the last thing I’m trying to do.
What I’m hoping to illustrate instead is what Katy illustrated for me, and what I hold her up to be: an example of how breast cancer can be. It can be met head-on. It can be dealt with strategically in such a way that suffering through treatment is greatly lessened. It can be beaten down, and its conquerors can come out of the fight with their zest for life intact – even heightened.
I had no idea.
I know advances are being made all the time in the diagnosis and treatment of this disease. Part of Katy’s hopeful situation was that she was a candidate for brachytherapy, a relatively new procedure that allows a much more direct delivery of radiation to the affected site. This helped make Katy’s experience as successful as it was and wouldn’t have been possible without folks worldwide fighting the fight and contributing to research that helps such developments along. She really did have a fantastic outcome on all fronts. But I also know how I’ve seen these circumstances portrayed in movies and television, which, for many of us, may be the only exposure we have to it. Sad, but true. Something similar to those images was my expectation of how it would go for her.
Katy completely blew that out of the water.
I realize that not everyone has what Katy has: family and friends who stepped up to take on the challenge with her, not only as a source of comfort and care but as truly thoughtful and aware adversaries of the disease fighting elbow-to-elbow with her in whatever form they could.
But everyone should at least have the chance to try.
Today, she is just over two years past her diagnosis. Her treatment was wildly successful and she’s going full-bore, just like she always has. Seizing this renewed season of her life. Loving her children and her grandchildren and her family. Living, like she’s supposed to.
To me, Katy is the new face of breast cancer.
I’m proud to call her my friend, and to know her as the warrior that she is.
I would like to see all who find themselves in a battle against breast cancer have a similar outcome. When good people do good work to help a good cause, great things can happen to help in that direction. With WRITE benefiting cancer charities who work toward beating down breast cancer for good, maybe more people facing this disease will have the opportunity to come through it like Katy has.
To Katy Scott: Thank you for the eye-opener, friend.
For you, I write for the fight.
In addition: I will be gifting all of the moms in my life a copy of Booktrope's WRITE FOR THE FIGHT for Mother's Day. I urge everyone reading this to do the same. It's available for Kindle or Nook, and you don't need an electronic reader to enjoy it; apps for both are available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The moms get a great book to read, filled with essays by some of the most amazing writers in indie publishing, and breast cancer charities benefit from the sales. There is no losing in this deal.
It's a win for everyone.
As it should be.