I Love My…”Congrats! You Caught That Cancer Early” Pink Sneakers

Dena Stern is vying for the title of “sparkliest girl in chemo.” She is documenting her treatment and recovery on her blog, The Dameazon.
I found the 6-cm tumor in my right breast two days after my 29th birthday. I knew the second I felt this new, hard, cauliflower-like lump that something was really wrong.  
A week later, my fears were confirmed — it was breast cancer.
The first thing that I did when I stopped crying was to write a letter on my fledgling fashion blog, asking my friends to start to check their breasts. I mean, who does that, right? Not really anyone I know. Feeling yourself up is awkward.
Well, I did, and it basically saved my life. There I was, suddenly a poster child for early detection and the power of the pink movement.
And so my life changed in a thousand tiny — and not-so-tiny — ways. I found strength in the fact that even though I was in this scary, awful situation, maybe I could do some good by encouraging other girls to keep an eye on their own health. My fashion blog became a cancer blog instead.
Despite this awful thing, this cancer, I've never felt anything but lucky. I had found it early. I was going to be just fine.
With all of that said, down days are rare for me, but they do happen. Days when I feel less like a 29-year-old girl, and more like a pincushion or a science experiment. Days when the doctors are running so many tests that they have to dig around to find a usable vein to draw my blood. Days when I just hurt.
Before cancer, I was a big believer in the power of occasional retail therapy. But on this particular down day, it just wasn’t working. I was walking around in the boutiques on Haight Street, and I would just look at all these cute clothes and think, “Well, can I wear that to chemo? Can I wear that to chemo?”  And of course, the answer in my depressed, negative-thinking brain was, "no." My life was so different, so foreign from what it had been a few short months ago. Would I ever wear anything but pajamas again?
And then I saw these shoes. They were far from practical — I mean, they were sneakers, with heels. What did a chemo patient need with these shoes? Where would I wear them? I turned away. I left the store. Then, I went back in.  
They were pink. Pink, the color of the breast cancer movement. And man, they were fun. I put them on. I thought, “You know what, why shouldn’t I get these shoes? Just because I have cancer? Pffffft. I am going to get better. I need these pink, you-caught-that-cancer early shoes.”
So, I bought them. When I look at my pink sneakers, they remind me of how lucky I am to be this pink poster child for early detection. And even though my life has changed in many ways, I can still rely on the healing power of a new pair of shoes.

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