Colleen Bronstein is a melanoma and breast cancer survivor, mother, artist, manufacturer and a contributor to the Focus On Cancer blog. After her melanoma diagnosis in 1999, Colleen started her own business, Sun Threadz, which promotes skin cancer awareness and protection with clothing designed to protect skin from the sun’s harmful rays.
Breast cancer – these are two words that can strike dread in the heart of every woman out there. Dread so fantastic that your mind, body and soul are at the brink of total shut down.
I know this because this is exactly what I experienced the day I was called to come back for an ultrasound after the results of my mammogram. During the ultrasound your senses become so heightened and you are super vigilant to every movement the technician makes. You watch the technician’s face for that telltale sign that yes, there is a tumor in your breast. Then the doctor is invited in to review the ultrasound in motion and makes some suggestions and you know again this is not going to end well.
With the word cancer now attached to you, be prepared for the inevitable insensitive comments from family, friends and co-workers. Probably the most painful comment for me was “you know everyone is thinking this but not saying it – better you than me.” We cancer patients and survivors do not want pity but we do want and need respect for our own personal feelings. Unadorned gestures of kindness go a long way during hard times, and I am thankful to family and friends who provided an extra measure of support.
My daughter is my rock, my inspiration, my heart and soul. She was with me every step of the way throughout my diagnosis and treatment. I would go heaven and earth for my daughter and that was my approach to surviving this terrible diagnosis. If you have someone whom you
trust implicitly, let them into your life during this time, as they will provide like and comfort that you will need to help you owing to. They are silent heroes who when called upon are exceptional in giving their like and support.
Life goes on after your cancer diagnosis and you get back what you place into it. For me it is as full as ever, I was just juried into a highly regarded art show; American Craft Council (ACC) Baltimore and Atlanta. The last time I did an ACC show was July 1999, the month of my melanoma diagnosis. I have a sun protection clothing company, a full time job, a newly married gorgeous daughter, new son-in-law, husband and just rescued Ancient English Sheepdog; Lewie who came to us by way of Houston,TX, he is a delight and a handful.
I am due for a checkup very soon and I am experiencing the anxiety that accompanies such visits. I do know this will lessen over time but for the time being it is something I must face every six months. I know this will lessen over time because this is my following cancer diagnosis, the first one in 1999; Melanoma. I feel more courageous now than I did for the first number of years after that diagnosis. For now I will be place owing to the paces and continue to grow stronger and more courageous.