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Dark Shadows

My Grandmother was my role model, but even she kept secrets

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Photo by Jeremy Wong on Unsplash

My grandmother was my hero. I looked up to her for many things. Her ability to weather any storm, her matriarchial ways, her cooking, her strong faith, but even she had secrets, things that were never shared or spoken of. When I lost her, I lost not only my grandma but a very close friend and confidant. She taught me about strength, and what it was to be a woman of integrity. I remember how she would teach me the traditions of her country.

There is a silent killer out there among women, high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, cancer, and keeping silent and not sharing with others is often the mistake women make, luckily, that has changed in the modern world.

Women didn’t talk about things back then. They didn’t speak about pain, or cancer, or hysterectomies, or even menopause. My mother didn’t, my grandmother sure as heck didn’t. I would pass by her room when I was a teenager to find her silently in tears. I was a young woman in my twenties when she passed, imagine the impact that had, when I was forming an opinion about my own role as a female. Everything was hushed, never discussed until after a few surgeries, it was too late the doctor’s said, there was nothing that could be done. Both my grandmother and mother passed away due to cancer. Longsuffering cost them their life.

Thankfully, the view on that subject has changed. Technology has improved, there are support groups, awareness, and it is no longer viewed as taboo. Earlier this year, I had a face to face introduction to the possibility of breast cancer. There is nothing quite like Googling “I found a lump” and wondering what happens next. Like many other women, I went through it alone. I sat in the doctor’s office with a pale face and met with the eyes of other women who also had that deer in the headlights look on their faces. I had no one that I could discuss this with, no husband to wrap his arms around me, or boyfriend to hold my hand, there was no one who could calm my mind when that pea-sized thing I saw in the mirror didn’t miraculously disappear overnight. For the first time in my life, I was really scared. However, unlike my ancestors, I chose not to remain silent. I educated myself on the options that were out there. I tried to find the answers to the “what if’s” I researched stories of other strong women who felt the same fear I did and probably sat in the same cold rooms, waiting, as I did as well. While I felt alone, in reality, I wasn’t, I had sisters out there who were survivors. I would beat this thing too.

I was one of the lucky ones. While in a precarious place in the lymph nodes under my arm, the lump turned out to be a cyst and was benign. After going through this twice, it was removed with some follow-up to make sure there wasn’t something else going on.

I also did some research on women’s products and did away with using deodorants that contain aluminum. I have very sensitive skin, and while I can’t say that this was the culprit, I started using natural deodorant. since doing so, even in the area where I now bear a small scar, I have not had any issues.

I urge you as a woman, face this stuff kicking and screaming. Educate yourself, find support groups, and please, do not remain silent. Our lives depend on it.

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