As we stare down a gray rhino, the look can be completely overwhelming. The aggressiveness, the thick amour, it’s as if there is a slim possibility of not being trampled. The black swan—have you seen one? I never have, but they do exist. For years the English only thought white swans existed, but upon visiting Australia their mindset changed.
The Carmel Marathon is fast approaching, it’s my Gray Rhino—I am facing it down, I am going to tackle this “beast” head-on, and with determination I will cross the finish line for the first time after 26.2 miles.
Breast cancer can be a gray rhino or it can be a black swan. It’s up to you as an individual to figure it out, one way or the other. We can deny breast cancer exists, or we can treat it like a gray rhino: face it down, challenge it and admit it affects one out of eight women.
I am running this marathon for a dear high school friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer. A year before, she lost her mom to this disease. But, like the English, she told herself breast cancer will not invade her body. That all changed when she faced it with a gray rhino-mentality. She walked out of a Kroger, and in the parking lot was a mobile breast cancer mammogram unit. It was shutting down when Erin walked up and they said they’d fire up the equipment and run a test.
A few days later, Erin was diagnosed. That led to a bilateral mastectomy, which led to Erin being a breast cancer survivor today. Her kids are thrilled — mom is still with them.
Eighty-five percent of all breast-cancers occur in women who have no family history of the disease. Peter Criss, drummer for the rock band Kiss, is a breast cancer survivor. Now, that is an eye-opener to the black swan.
This marathon is about challenging myself to something that is scary, something that is not comfortable and something that is not normal to do as a human being. So listen up moms, daughters, grandmas and sisters. Overcome your fear and face that rhino down, get a mammogram. That is uncomfortable and not normal—and I am sure very scary.
The question is: Are you in denial, or are you open to getting one?
What is terrifying to me is that my grandma died of breast cancer when I was 10 years old—she was 52.
This marathon is about getting checked and overcoming your fear. So husbands, push those wives. Dads, push those daughters. And friends, push those ladies to get a mammogram. Erin is alive because she was pro-active instead of reactive.
Originally published at Current in Carmel. Used by permission of the author.