The phrase ‘you learn something new every day’ could have been invented just for those coming to terms with a cancer diagnosis. It was only three months ago that I thought breast cancer was just one cancer – not an umbrella term linking together a series of complex stages and elements. I had never even thought about a lymph node and its role in supporting my body. And, most importantly, I didn’t know Interflora did the most amazing ‘first aid’ biscuits (in the shape of thermometers, safety pins and scissors). Thanks auntie Joanne!
Not all discoveries are medical ones. Having been tucked away at home for more than a week now, it is easy to block out the stages, the machines, the drugs and the treatment plan. In fact, the most interesting thing I have discovered this week (with the help of a beautiful friend) is that Breast Cancer has its very own saint – and her name is Agatha!
Now, Agatha was pretty tough (you certainly wouldn’t want to meet her down a dark alley). After being arrested for rejecting the affections of a man named Quintian (good name), she was subjected to a series of punishments. She was sent to a brothel to be corrupted. She did not waiver. She had her breasts cut off (thankfully there have been advances in medical science since then), but Saint Peter swooped in and miraculously restored them (that certainly doesn’t sound like it involved her tummy fat). Sadly, in the end, not even Agatha could survive the torment of being rolled over burning coals. As a saint rooting for those facing the challenge of breast cancer on a daily basis, however, she seems pretty inspirational.
I may have missed her feast day (5 February), but this is my quick shout out to Agatha. May the little charm I have popped in my purse give me the strength to smile in the face of uncertainty and pain. She may not be able to make our boobs grow back, but let her story of survival be one that inspires all breast cancer sufferers to fight, especially when they feel they have nothing left to give.