Breast Cancer Awareness Month
I remember it like yesterday the first time our mom told me she was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was working at a local bank and it was down the street from the City Market where she sold sweetgrass baskets. She stopped by and asked me to come downstairs to the parking lot. I ran down thinking she had a treat for me like the many times before. It wasn't unusual for her to bring me a snack or something unique she picked up for me from one of the vendors. But this day was different. When I approached the vehicle I saw her eyes and while she wasn't crying I could tell she had some bad news to share. I immediately asked her what was wrong and she calmly responded "I have breast cancer". I was a wreck. I started crying uncontrollably and mommy finally said "well if you're crying what am I supposed to do"? It definitely lightened the mood for the moment.
The good news is that our mother was always great at having her annual mammograms so the cancer was caught early. For the next few months we went through chemo treatments and radiation. Life was challenging but we got through it. I learned so much during this time because I thought breast cancer was a death wish but it wasn't. The struggles were real though. The mouth sores, the hair loss, the weakness, the nausea - you name it and I feel like we went through it.
Little did we know that mommy would be diagnosed with breast cancer 2 more times during her lifetime. Each time she underwent the grueling chemotherapy and radiation that was required to save her life. But was it really? Her quality of life was awful each time and she even said one day that there was something worse than death and it was called chemotherapy. She swore she wouldn't do it again after the 2nd time but she endured it anyway. By the end she'd had a double mastectomy and her immune system was very weak. The doctor assured her she wouldn't die from breast cancer and she didn't but I'm sure all of the stress on her body didn't help her other ailments.
This is the reason why Breast Cancer Awareness month is very personal for my sister and I. We know first hand how early detection can save your life over and over again. We also understand and empathize with people who are taking care of loved ones affected by cancer because it's not easy. Everyone (ladies and gentlemen) please have your annual mammograms and conduct your own exams monthly. It will save your life!