Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, which is very near and dear to my heart. I guarantee you know someone too, whether it be a family member, a friend or a parent's friend that has gone through breast cancer. And I'm no different. My mom is a 2-TIME SURVIVOR of breast cancer. My granny is a survivor. And my aunt is a survivor. I guess you could say breast cancer runs in the family. And I'll never forget when I made that connection.
Mom and me
I believe I was about 9 years old when I thought I was doomed to get breast cancer. My mom had just battled the disease when I was 8, and shortly after my granny fought her fight. So, I was next in line. At least that's how I thought about it. The "next in line" mantra really hit home when my mom found out she had cancer AGAIN--10 years after being cleared. I'll never forget the day she told me about it. I had randomly come home from college on a Wednesday to make it to a doctor's appointment. My dad was at work and my brother was still up at school. Somehow, someone in the family let it slip to my brother that mom was "gonna be okay" she had beat it once before and would do it again. The next hour my mom talked to him on the phone...from the garage, and tried to hide the news from me. But my parents only ever talked in the garage when there was bad news. So when she came back in I forced it out of her, and my knees buckled from underneath me. Why were they keeping this a secret? They didn't want to ruin my freshman Halloween experience. God bless my parents. Here my mom was looking cancer in the face again, and they didn't want to ruin my dressing up and drinking at college with my brother.

My parents then made the difficult decision together that my mom would have a double mastectomy and hysterectomy. Surgery was scheduled and we enjoyed Christmas with the date looming in January. One thing that I love about my family is that crisis really does bring us together. The waiting room, while terrifying during the 14 hour ordeal, was filled with sarcasm and laughter. It's what we do best. After that, not a day went by in the hospital that my aunts and uncles didn't stop by or offer to bring some amazing food.

When I was 9, I vowed to start getting mammograms at the age of 25. Thinking back, it's kind of funny that I even knew what mammograms were. But my parents never hid anything from us. We faced everything together as a family. I really appreciate that now....Back then it seemed like getting to age 25 would take forever, but here I am at 24..coming up on that 25th birthday this year. Have I changed my mind? Not one bit. I don't believe in taking chances with your health, and as much as I've been told that 25 is young, I don't' care. My mom got cancer when she was 39. Why WOULDN'T I get ahead of this thing? I'd like to keep the routine of beating breast cancer going, not fall victim to it.

Blonde days.. me, mom, brother, dad.

So, if there's anything you get out of this post. Please, please, please do monthly breast self-exams. It literally takes 1 minute in the shower but it can give you a lifetime. Here's a link to more directions: http://ww5.komen.org/content.aspx?id=5310

Send you a big virtual hug mom!!
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4 comments

  1. I just finished a fantastic book called "Firefly Lane" and not to ruin it for you too much if you decide to read it...one of the characters has a spot on her breast that looked like a bug bite or eczema. Her general doctor prescribed some cream and it went away but came back. When she went for her breast exam 9 months later...it was too late. I want to say it is called Inflammatory Breast Cancer. So ladies...if you see something weird be sure to check it out with someone who knows about breast issues.
    Glad your mom, gma, and aunt are survivors and thanks telling your story.

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  2. What amazing women in your family!!! Thanks for sharing your story :)

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  3. Thanks Jessie-you helped to make that journey bearable! Love you more than you know!

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  4. A friend of mine from high school recently got diagnosed with breast cancer - at 27 years old! It can hit anyone at any age at anytime. Love to her that you're promoting self exams and sharing your own experience.

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