A reader’s perspective on survivor’s.
Please be warned that there may be spoilers in this version of a reader’s perspective. It is not my intention to ruin any of the stories but I really admired the characters and their challenges.
October. I can’t believe that it is already here. But isn’t that something all people say? Where has the time gone? At least all people with responsibilities? I, at least, don’t remember saying that when I was a kid in school. Then it just seemed to take forever for summer vacation to arrive! Now, I wish I could slow down moments, have more time to do all the fun things and not have to worry about being so responsible all the time. Luckily I really love my job. I couldn’t imagine spending eight hours of my day in a place that made me miserable. So for that, I consider myself really lucky. I mean what better way to spend the day than helping people achieve their maximum potential and return home after illness? I mean I could look at it as I’m spending my day with sick people and isn’t that depressing. Or, as I like to do, I look at it as working with people who are really motivated and have some amazing life experiences to share!
One thing my job does do is give me insight into how important it is to take care of the little things along the way. I’m not just talking about legal wills and such. I’m talking about health and staying as healthy as possible. I get so frustrated when people say they hate going to the doctor when they don’t feel good or having regular check-ups from their doctor or dentist. I mean it is so much easier to address a problem before it becomes a bigger problem than to wait until it has you in a place, working with me just to get strong enough to go home. Granted things pop up unexpectedly or people have accidents, I get that, but when our medical professionals are doing everything they can to find ways to discover problems before they become too hard to treat, then take advantage of it! I mean look at the big picture- going to the doctor regularly could mean having more time with your beautiful partner, wife, and soul mate. I can’t tell you how many encounters with needles I’ve suffered through because a doctor was needing a blood draw or I needed an immunization or just some numbness for some painful procedure- all because I want to stay healthy because that is the best gift I can imagine giving to my wife.
So since it is October, I’m going to use this opportunity to say GO GET A MAMMOGRAM! This is Breast Cancer Awareness Month so take care of this before it is a bigger problem. I’m one of those women who is advised to get one every year. I have incredibly dense breast tissue and each time I’ve gone I’ve been immediately held over for an ultrasound to look more closely at at least two spots they found. Not the most relaxing experience to have your breast squished by two metal (and cold) plates, but totally worth it. I would rather suffer through those fifteen minutes of booby squishing than to find out later breast cancer could have been caught earlier with a better success factor. It happens, and yes it is unnerving each time I step up to that machine, to think, this could be the time when it’s more than an ultrasound. Cancer, and specifically breast cancer, is in our society. There is no way to explain the fear that comes from palpating your own breast and feeling an unexplainable lump. But there are ways to be proactive and I think it needs to be out there. EVERYONE GO GET A MAMMOGRAM!
But thinking about our LesFic, as I so often do, I couldn’t find many examples of breast cancer survivors in our characters and I thought that was odd. The thought of having diverse characters, characters who are more real, characters who are more flawed with life experiences and less perfect, has often times been tossed around in on-line discussions. But having a breast cancer survivor doesn’t seem to be common in our stories. I found some, and the characters are awesome in their presentation starting with Chris Paynter’s Frankie Dunkin in Two for the Show. Breast cancer is a possibility for everyone, but what makes Frankie’s character so real and important is that she already knows what happens and is faced with going through the experience again. I can’t even imagine what that feeling is like for Frankie or for her partner Lisa but Paynter does a phenomenal job of bringing out several questions and action paths of these two characters that really stood out for me.
I also thought that Anne Azel did an amazing job in Seasons with the full progression. One character discovering a lump, to the examination, into the treatment. And because Janet is in a relationship, the dynamics between her and Robbie are important. I mean I try to do everything that I can to stay healthy in regards to getting regular check-ups and such but watching, every day, the families that come to visit my patients and seeing the stress of recovery in their actions and hearing it in their words. Life as a cancer survivor would be difficult, it would be different and it would impact everyone. That is what Azel does so beautifully.
And then there is the character of Adrienne Pierce in Radclyffe’s Tomorrow’s Promise. For me this character is important in regards to breast cancer and our community because of what she so obviously goes through in regards to her personal image and personal self-confidence. It is a disease that disfigures and takes away parts of the body that we routinely connect with being female. It damages tissue making it hard to raise an arm over the head. It causes hair to fall out. The whole thing changes the body and the mind. That is what the character of Adrienne Pierce shared.
Why aren’t there more stories portraying this disease that hits our community? Or better yet, which stories am I missing? The one’s that I have read, I don’t know, “touched me” seems to simple but they have. This is something that I think about at least once a year when I get that notice in the mail saying it’s time to schedule my annual mammogram. I would much rather be thinking about it in this wonderful, amazing, thought provoking genre of LesFic that I love so much. So what stories am I missing, because for that question of “what characters would you like to see more of in LesFic?” my response would be breast cancer survivors.