As October commences, so does Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Many of us wear shades of pink frequently throughout the month of October, donate to the American Cancer Society and the Susan G. Komen organization to raise money for cancer research, along with numerous other activities.
According to Breastcancer.org, 1 in 8 American women will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime. This is about 12% of the American female population. While many of us have mothers, aunts, and sisters who suffer from this horrifying disease, not many of us think about a cancer fighter’s mental health. Not just women who are fighting breast cancer, but all people who are fighting cancer in general.
Cancer knows no race, no gender, no age. It simply will affect everyone at some point in their life.
Early in 2015, my sweet step-father was diagnosed with Stage Four Esophagus Cancer. Our journey fighting cancer was the hardest thing our family has ever gone through. Though, his initial prognosis was not as good as we hoped, there was never a day our Scotty did not fight.
I was told from the very beginning that he would not be considered a victim. He would only allow people to consider him a fighter, that is exactly what he was, a Cancer fighter. Many times, throughout our family’s battle with cancer, I wondered how our Scott was mentally holding up.
In the beginning, when he was still able to eat and go out comfortably we would meet for lunch weekly at a little diner near my college apartment. We would discuss things from politics to sports, to how things were going in each of our lives.
Once he was not able to go out anymore, I called him weekly to check on him, being that I was away at school I could not get home every week. I would ask him questions like how are you feeling and how are you
feeling and how are you holding up?
No matter what, he would always tell me he was fine. Even when I knew he was exhausted from fighting. I learned that he would write about his journey with cancer and that seemed to be how he kept his mental health in good shape. He was trying to be strong for our family, he was still setting an example of what a good father and husband was to look like.
This story, is not to make one feel sympathy for myself or my family, or take attention away from Breast Cancer Awareness month, but to encourage people who are quick to wear pink or walk a 5K for Cancer Awareness, to call someone you know who has cancer. Ask that fighter how they are doing. I challenge you to Volunteer your time at a local cancer center. Be an ear to listen to a fighter, sometimes, that’s all they may need.
Clemson University, BS Psychology ’18
Case Management Intern
Destination Greatness, PLLC
In loving memory of our sweet Scotty. Forever Bigham Strong, Powered by Prayer
About Destination Greatness
Destination Greatness is a mental health and substance abuse psychotherapy agency dedicated to assisting individuals and families in maximizing their level of functioning on all life domains in pursuit of Greatness. Destination Greatness provide individuals and families with the opportunity to live more fulfilling and meaningful lives. Destination Greatness strives to enrich each individual and family through greater self-awareness, focus on strengths, and belief in a greater destiny.