“Oh…,” the small voice said when I picked up the phone. “I was hoping no one would answer…”
This wasn’t the first time that I heard those words when I answered the phone at my place of work.
She wasn’t pregnant. But she was scared.
“I’ve heard you speak about post-abortive grief.” Her words came out slowly, racked with years of emotional pain that she had never spoken of.
We made an appointment for her to come in. “I drove around the block a few times before I parked,” she said as she looked around. It was clear she was worried someone might see her there.
The pain of her decision from so many years ago poured out. “No one knows. I’ve never spoken about this to anyone,” she sobbed.
“You can move through this,” I assured her. “I will walk beside you.”
She looked at the first chapter of the program, but said she could not take it home. “What if my husband sees it?” I remembered that same feeling. I had shared with my husband about my abortion very early in our relationship, but my reason wasn’t a good one. I was doing something that many with post-abortive grief typically do – I was self-sabotaging. It was my way of saying, ‘Look what I’ve done! Do you still love me now? This is your opportunity to tell me how disgusting I am and to run for the hills!’
A few days later, she called. “I just can’t do it. I can’t walk through this pain.” I could not convince her.
As readers of this blog, you know that I am a big proponent of walking through emotional pain. There are lots of reasons to not have an abortion, one which I will talk of in a moment, but if you have, there are lots of reasons to face what has happened.
Many times, what we have been through doesn’t just affect us as individuals, it infects those around us. Our “sickness” spreads like germs. But there is another affect. There are studies about people who have had secrets that they carried around their entire lives. At the end, on their death bed, their pain medication is not working. Subconsciously, they feel they “deserve” the pain. Until something happens – the person reveals a long kept secret…and suddenly the medication works. Interesting.
I have spoken with hundreds of women who have contemplated terminating their pregnancy. One of the things we discuss is something seldom talked about – the link between abortion and breast cancer. I am not writing this to convince you of the link. Breast cancer is obviously caused by a multitude of factors, but when you are a woman who has had an abortion, and you see evidence of the link, some of us say, ‘Oh shit…no one told me about this…what have I done to myself.’ I don’t know if I would’ve changed my mind if I had been presented with the information, but at least I would’ve been allowed to decide.
It saddens me that it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month here in Canada and many organizations receiving funds for research refuse to even acknowledge the possibility of a link. Why? Political correctness?
Do you think it will come as a surprise to me in the future if I am ever diagnosed with the dreaded disease? Not likely.
But every October, I think about the woman that came in.
Two years after I spoke with her, I received a message from someone who was raising money for cancer research in memory of a loved one. It was clear that the message was sent en masse – the sender had no clue who I was. The name of the person who had died seemed familiar to me. I checked the records. It was her.
She had died. Of breast cancer.