There's a scene in The Shawshank Redemption when Andy tells Red, “I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living, or get busy dying.” Let's say that last part again. Get busy living or get busy dying. Packs quite a punch doesn't it? Well in the film, Red’s quite taken by it too and makes some moves of his own later on. If you’ve never seen it and have no idea what we’re talking about, we kind of suggest you check it out, like ASAP. But we digress!
Anyway, why are we bringing this up? And so many years later? And in a breast cancer blog?
Well, because it’s an amazing movie - but more so because the message is still profound and relevant, especially in the face of struggle, or as in many of our cases, a breast cancer diagnosis and the battle that follows.
Our woman of the month Geeta Mitchell certainly agrees with Andy. She trusted in a similar and compelling realization that she shared with us at her photo shoot.
“Cancer may sound like a death sentence but I tell you, as soon as you were born you were given a death sentence because death is inevitable.” Then in reinforcing an old saying she continued, “’Live you may, die you must.’ And this is why I'm advising everyone to live life one day at a time and enjoy every day of your life. Celebrate life because you never know what’s next.”
We find this old adage, “Live you may, die you must,” as compelling as Andy's “get busy living” line. However, while Andy's tribulations were fictional, Geeta's struggles were very real.
Though even in the face of a breast cancer diagnosis, she never stopped living and encourages us all to do the same.
“Do not allow cancer or any other diagnosis to cause you to stop enjoying life,” she told us. “You’re alive for a reason. God is not finished with you yet. You have a mission to complete.”
Geeta's journey began back in August 2014 after she found a lump during a self-exam. She was diagnosed four months later with breast cancer in both breasts. Any diagnosis can be shocking but this really caught Geeta off-guard since she had no family history of breast cancer. Notice that regardless of this, she had the prudence to perform a self-exam in the first place. Here Geeta reminds us of Brenda Dukes, our calendar girl from last month, who also conducted a life changing self-exam. For Brenda we marveled at her initiative to do a self-exam despite receiving a clean bill of health after a mammogram. Now we marvel some more at Geeta's same initiative to do a self-exam despite having no medical history of breast cancer.
See, many women mistakenly feel they’re in the clear if they have no history of breast cancer in their families, but unfortunately that’s not the case. Many research sites actually point to the startling statistic that more than 75% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no known risk factors – including family history.
After her diagnosis, Geeta spent nearly all of 2015 battling breast cancer. She underwent a bilateral mastectomy in January, and then continued the year with 16 rounds of chemo and 28 rounds of radiation. Yet during the most frightening parts of her journey she clung to an optimistic belief that she would make it through. And she did. But she doesn’t attribute that solely to medical treatment.
“It was a really tough battle but by the grace of God I survived 2015,” she said crediting her faith and trust in a greater power. “Today I can stand up and say I’m a survivor. Not because I deserved it but because of the grace of the almighty God.”
Geeta opted to read the Bible for extra inspiration during her bouts but regardless of your beliefs, her message is universal. “Only you have the ability to control you; so you decide,” she said. “You are what you believe.”
Providing more great advice, she also shared, “Every day is a new beginning. You cannot change the past and you do not know what the future holds, but you can decide right now what you are going to do, and do it now!”
Geeta, we agree and appreciate you sharing your story, wisdom and strength with us. We missed your birthday last month so happy belated!
At EOTS we don’t just celebrate birthdays but life, survival and inspiration. We’re thrilled you’re on board with us. Next month we’ll discuss self-exams in more detail so be sure to stop by for that.
Before we go we’d like to leave you with another great message from our dear, fictional friend Andy.
“Remember, Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”
(Seriously, you need to see it if you haven’t.)
Until next time, keep your eye on strength and stay inspired!