3 weeks ago I received an email from one of the ladies from the support group that I went to. They were going to have a table at the Minnesota Lynx basketball game and needed volunteers to help. I immediately responded that I would help. Without thinking about it.
The more that I thought about it, the more I wanted to do this. I don't feel like a fake any longer when it comes to my surgery. I feel caught in the middle. I'm not a cancer survivor, I'm a previvor and that comes with it's own set of issues, emotional and physical. I feel the need to connect with someone like me, to talk to someone who understands me. Someone who made the same decision I did - surgery to prevent cancer.
I showed up early and the group of us set up tables in the halls of the center, where game goers would walk through. The posters showed women and had questions about genetic testing, breast cancer and the signs of ovarian cancer. We had stickers for kids and business card sized information for adults. The Lynx gave us some t-shirts to give away.
Our mission was to hand out information and answer questions. There were members of FORCE.org, peer educators, women from Susan Komen organization, women from the MN Alliance for Ovarian Cancers, genetic counselors and people like me who had gone through testing and surgery.
You know what? It was damn hard to give out that information. Women would joke that they didn't need cancer. They would turn their heads and not acknowledge us. They would say they knew all about it. The only time that they were willing to walk up to us is when we had the T-shirts or they knew one of us by the table.
I was disheartened. Here I was ready to share my story after much soul searching and no one wanted to hear it. And these are mostly women at this game, women of all ages. One of the peer educators talked to me and said that about 70% of people don't want to know if they have a genetic predisposition to cancer. They'd rather just live life. At 27 that was me. But now, at 43? I wanted to know, needed to know that I was doing something to reduce my risk other than mammograms.
So when I got home, I signed up to volunteer on the FORCE Organization website. I don't know what all that entails, but I left that basketball game wanting to share my story with more women and wanting to support and be more involved with women like me.