We must keep fighting until we find a cure
Published 4:04 pm Tuesday, October 19, 2010
My heartfelt gratitude is expressed to people across our nation who are involved this month in activities that raise awareness of breast cancer. Corporations, civic and social organizations, athletic teams, health professionals and everyday people are involved in activities in support of breast cancer research.
I knew it was coming. Although I don’t have the BRCA gene, my family has a strong history of breast cancer. Annual mammograms have been part of my routine since I was 40 years old. But I kept thinking, “I have more time.” A breast cancer diagnosis is never convenient. I was busy working, writing, helping my pregnant daughter with her active toddler, and participating in civic and church organizations. So when the diagnosis came, I was not ready for it.
The last eight months of my life have been turned upside down by the diagnosis of breast cancer. Biopsies, numerous physician appointments, two surgeries and sixteen weeks of chemotherapy have taken total control of my life. Prior to the diagnosis, I was a physically healthy woman. The protocol for treatment is necessary to rid one’s body of tumors detected and microscopic cells that are not detected. I would not wish this diagnosis of breast cancer on my worst enemy.
Not only has it changed my physical activities but the life threatening diagnosis also changed my priorities in life. I am blessed with a huge support system of family and friends who have encouraged me through this process. Cherishing these relationships has become more important to me. Appreciating the simple things in life, i.e., a beautiful sunny day, flowers in bloom, a cup of coffee, a good book to read, and not sweating the small inconveniences are lessons learned through this ordeal.
As I look around me, I realize that statistics show 1 out of 6 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. If affects virtually every family. My mother, aunt and grandmother all had bilateral mastectomies in their 50’s and 60’s. They all survived. In fact, my mother celebrated her 80th birthday this week. That fact causes me to look to the future for my younger sister, daughter, two young granddaughters and nieces. We have lots of girls in our family who are strong and assertive but I don’t want them to experience what my mom and I have experienced.
As breast cancer research continues, my hope is that the next generation of women will not experience what I have gone through and that a cure will be discovered. That’s why it is important to keep awareness at the forefront of our thoughts, keep research funded and respond to recommendations scientists relate to better breast health. Exercise, healthy eating, weight control, routine self breast exams and mammograms should be part of every woman’s routine. Until there is a cure, we must all keep fighting the battle for the cure.