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C Stands for Courage, Compassion, and Conquest

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

[NCSD Guest Blog Post by Bobbi de Cordova-Hanks]

Bobbi de Cordova-HanksWhat I remember most about hearing the diagnosis of cancer was the surreal feeling that came over me. Once I finally heard the doctor say cancer, my mind immediately shut down. Now I know that this is something that happens to most everyone when first diagnosed. That’s when a second set of ears becomes critical. Whatever I thought I heard the doctor say was just about opposite of what my husband, Jerry, really heard the doctor say. It was almost like an out-of-body experience. It was eerie. It was as if I were looking down at a scene from a play. 

As I prepared for my mastectomy, random thoughts kept running through my head. If they remove my breast, what will I put in my bra when I leave the hospital? What will the surgical scar be like? Will I be the same person I was before? So many questions and so few answers. In those days, very few doctors recognized the importance of the psychosocial effects of breast cancer. 

The mind/body connection was just beginning to surface, with books written by Dr. Bernie Siegel and Dr. Carl Simonton. The two were among the first to recognize that you really can’t separate the mind from the body. And what a blessing it was to be able to read and learn from these books that there is life after cancer. 

I became like a human sponge, soaking up every piece of information I could lay my hands on. There was no information superhighway in 1986. I didn’t even know anyone who had had breast cancer. Cancer was still “The Big C” back then. Now I know that the “C” stands for courage, compassion, and conquest. We become Amazon warrior women, ready to stand our ground against this faceless enemy. 

That’s why, on the first Sunday in June every year, I proudly celebrate National Cancer Survivors Day®, whether it’s celebrating with my Bosom Buddies on Jacksonville’s beautiful Riverwalk or at our zoo with clowns, games, a DJ, and more. I want to show the world that cancer survivors are proud, fun, and living life to the fullest, no matter how long they have survived. I am not and never will be a victim of cancer. I am a SURVIVOR! 

Bobbi de Cordova-Hanks is the founder and facilitator of Bosom Buddies, a breast cancer support and education program of the Women's Center of Jacksonville in Jacksonville, FL. In addition, she is the coauthor, along with her husband, Jerry, of Tears of Joy, a memoir about their cancer journey together. Bobbi also speaks across the U.S. and Canada on cancer survivorship and cancer caregiving.