Sisterhood of Survivors

As I was getting ready to teach a beginner yoga class, a beautiful woman came in to take a class with her daughter and mother. Have you ever met someone and felt an immediate connection to him or her? I knew this woman was a breast cancer survivor because I had spoken to her mother, one of my students, about her previously. I knew immediately this woman understood what I had been through and I knew what she had been through.

We didn’t have to say a word.

 When you have something in common with another person you feel a connection. That can happen by going to the same school, growing up in the same town, finding out you both like animals or have the same hobbies. I’ve found it interesting that there is a whole sisterhood of breast cancer patients, survivors and the people in their lives that have been affected by breast cancer.

Cancer creates an immediate connection.

It is not the way I wanted to get to know others but there is a peculiar bond when meeting someone that has gone through what you have gone through. It is comforting to meet someone that understands what you can’t say out loud.

I found that out when I was initially diagnosed with breast cancer. People started coming out of the woodwork letting me know that they knew someone that had been through breast cancer.   Acquaintances shared with me that they were survivors.   It was surprising how many people were touched in some way by breast cancer. It made me a uncomfortable yet at the same time it was reassuring

When I moved to Tennessee there was a lady I worked with that was a breast cancer survivor. She had been cancer free for over 20 years. When she found out I had been through breast cancer she said we were sisters. She said we had both gone through something hard and survived. She said cancer sucked but cancer couldn’t beat us. It was oddly soothing to have her be so blunt with me. I have been told often about women who lost their battle with breast cancer. I am always scared for myself when I hear a story of a friend/mother/sister who died after a reoccurrence of breast cancer. People love to share these stories more often than survivor stories. I suppose they want to share the memory of someone they loved with me. I understand that.

I used to keep my breast cancer story to myself. I don’t now. I found that people want to connect with someone that is a survivor. Women that have gone through breast cancer can’t express to others how it feels. It is hard to convey to someone else how it feels to have a part of your femininity turn on you.

They have felt what you felt.

They know the fear; the pain; the anguish; the nausea of chemotherapy; the burning of radiation and how it feels to look your own mortality in the eye.

Breast cancer survivors don’t’ have to tell each other how it felt to go through that – they know.

The connection is in the unspoken.