I wasn't able to be at this session myself but I heard from some of the people who attended that it was a truly inspirational story, and Aryon shared her talk with me.
She was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 2001. The advice: a double, radical, bilateral mastectomy. "I sat there and went numb, became a robot of sorts in my responses, got up and walked out ... I phoned the one person in my life that I needed most right then ... my wife. My life flashed in slow motion before my eyes but it wasn't over yet."
Aryon made the choice to fight. To "... stand toe to toe with it, stare it in the eye and tell it where to go ... I wanted to see my son happy, to hold my first grandchild, to spend time with the woman I loved enough to leave my life as I knew it behind and move to a place I had never been to before."
Aryon's partner loved and cared for her, but she couldn't face the scars and Aryon never knew why. She passed away several years later. "My wife never got to hear the "all clear" given to me. But I fight on, to repay the debt I incurred by bargaining. I fight on by trying to make women AND men aware of this tragic killer that if caught early enough, can be treated."
She came into Second Life to heal from the loss of her wife of 26 years, and from the immense trauma of fighting the breast cancer. It was several years before someone other than a doctor, nurse or Aryon herself actually touched her scars. Not only touched them but looked at them, and said the words that she had said many times before, without having seen them … “it doesn’t matter”.
Aryon considers herself to be one of the lucky ones. "I don’t know why one person wins their battle and another loses it. But I do know that everything happens for a reason ..." So now she shares her story, in the hope that by making people aware, she is serving a purpose. And she now takes pride in her scars and campaigns through her blog for lesbian women to 'get to grips with their nips" because, as she writes there, "... lesbian women are almost twice as likely to suffer from breast cancer than women generally". See: http://christhebutch.wordpress.com/2008
She concluded her talk: "If through my survival, through my standing here and speaking to you all today, through my fundraising in the name of breast cancer awareness and research ... I can save one life ... by making someone aware of regular self examinations, of regular mammograms ... then I will be happy but not fulfilled. We MUST find a cure. So, I will continue to battle, wearing my scars like a medal won in a war, for life ... mine and everyone elses."