Humor helps breast cancer victim prepare
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
BLACKFOOT, Idaho — Breast cancer is no laughing matter, but a southeastern Idaho mother of four is hoping humor helps her survive surgery and recovery from a disease that afflicts more than 1 in 1,000 women.
Sheryl Thomson planned to write "Goodbye, Girls, no more hangin' around" across her chest and wear breast-shaped slippers on her way into the operating room Monday.
Thomson, 40, gathered with about 30 members of her family over the weekend at her home in Blackfoot for a bra-burning ceremony — and to exchange laughter and a few tears. She said she has "no doubt" she'll beat the disease.
"I approach life with humor," Thomson said. "I'm upbeat because I have to be."
Female guests were greeted by a bright pink sign that read "Welcome to my breast cancer adventure" and then told to peg their bras on a wooden fence near a fire pit in the backyard.
Every bra had words of encouragement and silly sayings — "Some of us never had much anyway" and "Breast of luck."
"It's great to support her," said Debbie Rawson, a friend of Thomson's who survived colon cancer. "Sheryl knows how to make it fun, and she knows how to make it positive."
After eating dinner and watching Thomson smash a breast-shaped pinata, each woman tossed a bra into the fire. Before casting the bras into the flames, they read aloud the sayings, an exercise in elocution that was accompanied by peals of laughter.
Still, Thomson acknowledges it's been a tough year.
In December, she suffered a miscarriage. That was followed by a bout with postpartum depression. Thomson found the abnormality — doctors say it's lobular carcinoma — through self-examination Memorial Day weekend.
"I knew at that moment it was cancer," said Thomson, a devout member of The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints "But I also felt like my heavenly father was talking to me and he said, 'You will survive this.'"
Her mother, Sharon Kiser, joined the party of well-wishers on Saturday to help ease the fear of the unknown that always accompanies surgery.
"She's just my survivor child," Kiser said. "She just makes the best of it and plows her way through it."