So I’m sure you’re wondering why on earth I waited until the last day in October to write about Breast Cancer Awareness. Believe it or not, it’s not because I’m late which would be typical. No, it’s much more than that. It’s because I personally believe we should be aware of breast cancer more than just one month a year. We should be “pink” even when we’re not wearing and buying everything pink. Don’t get me wrong. I’m beyond grateful for all the businesses and companies that focus on the month of October. I’m grateful for all the people who go all out to support people like my mom. I can never measure to gratitude I have. The only awareness I want to bring here is it only takes breast cancer a couple of months to strike and go from stage 2 to 4, from life to death, from a whole family to a broken one. If you wait a whole year to pay attention it’s too late. I wanted to share with you how to prepare yourself and be more aware. A way for you and your family to go pink year round.
Back in January of 2009, my mom had a place on her breast. When she went to the doctor to have it examined, it ended up being a place filled with liquid and non-cancerous, thank God. We were very grateful and although she watched it, we went back to life as we knew it. In April of 2009, my mom took a trip to England and France with her best friend, Debbie. Right before her flight, she did a self exam and discovered the place had returned. She made an appointment for when she returned from her trip and I’m so glad she went ahead and traveled because that kind of travel for her would soon be impossible for the next year. Upon examination, they found this spot had changed. What was once filled with liquid was now a mass. She was sent to remove the mass and once again, we were certain that no breast cancer would be found. Surely something wouldn’t grow in just a few short months. My mom went into recovery and we left the same day. It was a few short days later that mom got the call. This spot, unlike the other, was cancer. Breast cancer. I remember it like it was yesterday. Mom called to see if her and dad could swing by on their way out to dinner. I honestly didn’t think anything of it until they sat me down to explain what was going on. In all honestly, I was shocked. I don’t even remember much other than dad going to pick JR up from work and explain to him what we were faced with at this point. At that moment, we decided we were going to remain positive. Only positive thoughts would be had and only positive words and actions would come out. We would remove ourselves from all negativity. This was the best decision we ever made as a family. Mom’s friend, Sharon, came over that night to walk us through the next steps. Sharon is a stage 4 breast cancer survivor. She gave mom advice and prayed with us prior to leaving. Mom quickly made her next appointment where they examined the breast more and removed some lymph nods. We were lucky. Mom was a stage 2 patient and would only have to undergo chemotherapy. My mom made one of the wisest decisions at this time and had a total mastectomy. I support her 100% in this decision. I know many women who do a lumpectomy or partial mastectomy and the cancer returns. This lessened mom’s chances of the cancer coming back. We refused to be beat. I will end this part with this: cancer was HARD. It wasn’t easy. There were days that we broke down and cried. Going with mom to shave her head and pick out bras was one of the hardest things I have ever done. But you know what? It proved to me something I knew but didn’t understand the extent of until then- my mom is TOUGH. She is STRONG. She is a SURVIVOR. There is no one, aside from God, that I consider a bigger example of faith and strength in God than my mother. She stayed strong for us when we needed to be strong for her. I thank God every day for her, her life and her testimony. We are all stronger and better people because of her and her fight.
I wanted to share this today because there are ways we can all be prepared better. We can all stand a fighting chance against cancer and here’s how:
*Have a regular mammogram. I am getting ready to schedule my first one once I return from France. I had to wait until I finished nursing but I’ll be two months in the clear when I make my appointment. I know I’m young. I’m only 27 years old. I would rather go NOW and have a baseline than wait even 2 years and not know what we’re up against. My grandmother and my mom both have had breast cancer and I refuse to let it sneak up on me. You are suppose to go once a year so have it at the same time as your pap smear and other fun female appointments. All these appointments will check for several forms of cancer and other diseases so it is very important that we go and be diligent in keeping our appointments.
*Do self exams. My mom had her mammogram in January and the spot returned in April. If she hadn’t done self exams she could have been further along in her cancer or possibly dead. I hate to even think about it. Your doctor should have forms on how to do self exams but you can also go online to find out how.
*Set up reminders. Even the best of intentions can sometimes not be good enough. Find a way to remind yourself. You can do it on your calendar. You can also set it up online to send texts to your phone. I love this. I get reminders once a month to do my self-checks and once a year for my mammograms.
*Educate yourself. Be wise in what you put in your body. There are so many things being linked to cancer nowadays and so many people diagnosed that I have to believe what we’re putting in and on our bodies is catching up with us. There are so many things that are labeled “paraben free” that are still carrying caseinogens (which are cancer causing agents). Don’t just take something at it’s word. You can start with simple things like heating up your food in glass containers instead of plastic. Changing all your water bottles and other plastics to BPA free. Remember we’re not just doing this for us but for our kids and their kids.
*Be positive. No matter what happens, remain positive. Cancer won’t win unless you let it. Does this mean that we will all beat the disease? No. Unfortunately, there is not a cure that works 100% of the time. But our attitude defines cancer beating us. We live our lives to the fullest and without giving up or quitting. I know the odds are stacked against me but I refuse to be defeated. I come from a long line of survivors.
I hope this post has inspired you to be aware. To be strong. To be the women God created each of us to be. I want to dedicate this post to all the men and women who have lost the fight to cancer, but have not been defeated, as well as those who have won the fight. Cancer does not define who we are. There will be a day that we have a cure. I fight for this for my daughter and her daughter and the daughters to come. I ask you to join me.
What are you doing to prevent cancer in your life and the lives of your loved ones?