Tyesha Love is one of five vibrant and strong women selected to represent Living Beyond Breast Cancer during Fashion Bug’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month Campaign. Throughout October the women’s clothing store, with nearly 700 stores across the United States, will support LBBC by donating 100% of proceeds from the sale of a one-of-a-kind inspirational tee and by asking their shoppers to make a contribution by rounding up their purchase to the next whole dollar.
For women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, October is often a month filled with emotion. While every woman expresses their approach to the month differently, Tyesha reminds us of what made her see the light after walking in darkness when she was initially diagnosed with breast cancer.
I was honored to be selected as one of five women to share my story through a Breast Cancer Awareness Month campaign sponsored by Fashion Bug. The idea of the five senses became an alluring theme. Each of us have a breast cancer story, of course. But from person to person, our story is a reflection of one ideal sense that created the most appealing significance in our individual journeys. For me, it was my ability to see.
After my stage II breast cancer diagnosis, I was overwhelmed with visions of cancer. I saw my life flashing before me – How could I have taken better care of myself? How would I overcome this diagnosis? Would I see a future with my family? What does this mean for my kids?
I sat in my oncologist’s office staring out of the window which overlooked the Philadelphia skyline. I felt so alone. I watched cars drive by on the expressway and people walking to and from – going to work, going out to lunch, running errands, shopping or heading home to their families. Am I the only one fighting for my life! I pitifully asked myself even though I knew I was not. Desolately, I stood from my bed to look into the mirror and saw a cancer patient – no hair; frail, scared and feeling as if cancer far removed me from the “normal” world.
At home, I could no longer stand to see myself in the mirror – the scars, frailty, and hairlessness. I did not want to see this Tyesha – the Tyesha with cancer. I covered the mirror in my bedroom. I opened the bathroom cabinets so I could not see my reflection when I went to bathe.
Overtime, I had begun to get weary of seeing myself as a lonesome cancer patient and seeing everything around me as cancer related – Tahitian Treat soda resembled the AC treatment, my white terry cloth robe reminded me of doctor visits, daytime television reminded me of being on medical leave from work. I started to slip in and out of depression. I needed to shift the way I saw life and myself.
As I was ready to give up, a dear friend slipped a picture of my kids in front of my moping head and tears soaked eyes. Seeing the picture of my children gave me the will I could not find elsewhere to fight the disease. It was a reminder of times together; a vision of the future with them and how much we needed one another. The image of my children was what I needed to pick my spirits up. I started to see the beauty in everything again. I saw more green in the trees and more brightness in the sun. I saw bigger smiles in the face of my children and immediate family. I saw hope with each doctor visit. I saw more opportunities to enjoy being in the moment.
After awhile, I uncovered the mirrors and chose to see someone strong and brave; someone that was doing all that was necessary/possible so she could create more memories with her children; see more holidays with them; watch them graduate. I looked at each treatment and surgery as a step closer toward victory over the diagnosis.
Fewer were the moments where I saw myself as a cancer patient and more moments where I saw myself as a survivor. When I see the photos that I took at the Fashion Bug shoot, I see myself. She is healthy. She is laughing. She has a different vision that was heightened through her breast cancer diagnosis. She is me.
I want to see that other survivors and their loved ones will have the impetus to redirect energies of distress and get through a season of cancer with hope and in good spirits, just as I managed to do.
Throughout Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Fashion Bug stores will donate 100 percent of proceeds from the sale of an Inspirational Screen Tee to support our educational resource Guide for the Newly Diagnosed and LBBC’s Survivors’ Helpline, a personalized matching service that connects women in similar circumstances in a confidential setting.