On December 27th, 2012, my life changed forever. That was the day I had to undergo a partial mastectomy and overcame my fear of breast cancer.
In 2009, I went to my first ever OBGYN appointment, where my doctor explained the importance of self-examination. While performing an exam, she found a small lump in my right breast. I was instantly confused, shocked and terrified. My entire life flashed before my eyes and everything just seemed to become one big blur. The doctor’s words quickly became a distant murmur as I started to completely reevaluate everything in my life.
Breast cancer runs in my family, but there was never a moment when I stopped to think that it could personally affect me, and at such a young age too.
Days later, the doctor sent me directly to a specialist who decided to bypass a biopsy and simply advised me to undergo triannual ultrasounds to monitor the lump. After two years of little concern from my doctor, my life slowly started return to normal.
Until it wasn’t.
All of a sudden things started to change. The lump began to ache, burn and create a sharp pain. I also noticed significant growth. When I notified by doctor, I was immediately brought in for an ultrasound. I knew things had taken a turn for the worse when the doctor, instead of the nurse, came into the room for my debriefing.
Eight days later, I found myself lying on the operating table undergoing a partial mastectomy where I lost a quarter of my breast and what felt like another quarter of my confidence and self-esteem.
A lot of attention is put on the importance of research and funding when it comes to fighting cancer, both of which are incredibly important, but the emotional battle is often forgotten. The battle you face while suffering from cancer is incredibly difficult in its own right, but that fight doesn’t just go away when the cancer does. Even though the cancer may be gone, the scars never fully fade and that is one of the biggest struggles I’ve had to overcome.
When I looked in the mirror those scars were a constant reminder of what I went through, and, until I underwent reconstruction, the mess that was left behind would literally bring me to tears. It wasn’t until I reached out to fellow survivors that I found comfort, and even strength, in my scars. I not only found the ability to rebuild a solid foundation for myself, but I also developed the courage to reach out to other cancer survivors on a deep, personal level in order to help them face their own internal pain.
Cancer is a scary demon to face, but an organization like LIVESTRONG, which is there for you through every phase of your journey, really can make things a lot more bearable. Every time I look down at my wrist and see that yellow band, I see a universal sign of hope when it comes to cancer; a reminder that help is only an arm’s reach away.
I have since been given a clean bill of health and am blessed to be living a happy and healthy life. I was recently crowned Miss Ohio International 2015 and will go on to compete in the Miss International Pageant, July 31st and August 1st, proving that there is not only life beyond cancer, but a bright and hopeful one! I’ve been given the opportunity to spend this year promoting LIVESTRONG to raise awareness about cancer, and to help impact as many lives as possible, reminding people to live happy, live healthy, and LIVESTRONG!
– Raven Reed, Miss Ohio International 2015
To find out more about Raven visit her website: www.ravenraereed.com
To find out more about Miss International visit: www.miss-international.us/