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It’s my breast, and I’ll laugh if I want to

In The Breast I Can Be: Finding Purpose in Breast Cancer

Jo Lee Ferguson

By Jo Lee Ferguson
June 21, 2017 at 2:10 p.m.
Updated June 21, 2017 at 2:10 p.m.


I went to my mailbox not too long after I told friends I had been diagnosed with Stage I breast cancer and discovered an Amazon package.

Inside, I found “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hope & Healing for Your Breast Cancer Journey,” with a note from an old friend. He’s one of the best reporters I ever worked with, but on this side of life, “friend” is the most important part of that description.

The note says: “I hope this book helps you be the breast you can be.”

I was suddenly laughing and crying. That’s funny, stuff, right? It was such a relief to have something suddenly cut through the tension of a breast cancer diagnosis – and it took a 50-something year-old man to do it. Plus, I really like to laugh. It’s my medicine, but who wants to have breast cancer, even Stage I? So I cried too.

It started me thinking, though: How do I want to do this? How do I be the breast I can be? I have Stage I breast cancer. I’ve been told it’s an aggressive fellow, but we caught it early while it is still small. My future includes surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and medication. At some point in the not too distance future, I should, by all accounts, be fine.

Since I’ve been diagnosed, I’ve learned there are a number of women I know who have survived breast cancer just fine. It’s more common than I think most of us realize. I’ve also learned that many of us don’t know much about breast cancer.

I also realized there’s no room in my life for complaints, just gratitude. This life God has given me is beautiful, and breast cancer doesn’t change that.

That leaves me with the question: how do I go about being “the breast I can be?” The answer’s always the same for me: I’ll write. I’ll tell this story because I hope it might help someone else. I know it will help me, because it will remind me to see the joy and humor in life and to celebrate the gifts that each day brings.  It will help me to honestly assess each step toward being “the breast I can be.”

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