October is a special month in our family! We celebrate lots of birthday (happy wishes to my Dad on the 2nd, my brother on the 5th, and my brother-in-law on the 7th). Today, October 6th, my husband I are celebrating our 7th wedding anniversary! I couldn't ask to be married to a better man, and tomorrow I'll post something special about him, but today I'm going to talk about something different.
In the midst of all of these special days and lives that we celebrate, we also celebrate the lives of three women in my family who are survivors. When I was pregnant with my oldest child, my grandmother (mom's mom) was diagnosed with breast cancer. They caught it early, and fortunately she did not have to undergo radiation or chemotherapy. They were able to treat it with a mastectomy and prescription medication! But immediately we knew our lives had changed dramatically. Grandma is still alive and kicking!
In August of 2005, when my second child was 4 months old, my mother was diagnosed breast cancer. She was also lucky enough to have caught it very early. A mammogram truly saved her life. Because she'd fought lumps (called fibroid cysts) for years which put her at a higher risk to begin with of developing breast cancer, she and her doctor (along with the support of my dad and my siblings) decided that it was best to undergo a radical mastectomy. 5 months later, she underwent reconstructive surgery and looks better than ever. We are so lucky they caught it early. Mom required no chemo, radiation, or other form of medication. We praise the Lord everyday for her survival. But don't assume she had the easy way out -- a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery is no easy path. I saw first hand while caring for my mom that it is painful and crippling, and it takes away your independence for a while. She is now, 3 years later, starting to get back to "normal".
Less than one year later, my dad's sister, my Aunt Barb, was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. This was a whopper. She had it in her breast and also in her uterus. She chose to have a partial mastectomy and underwent chemo and slight radiation (if I remember correctly). It was not an easy fight, but she, too, is still alive and fighting -- now cancer free! We found out that her grandmother (my great-grandmother) had died of breast cancer years earlier.
The family implications of breast cancer in my life are obvious. The chances of me or my sister developing breast cancer, or my daughter, are drastically higher than for other women we know. It will always be a part of our lives, and we will do what we can to find a cure, to catch it early, to make sure women know that they are in charge of their health and their bodies and they don't have to die as a result of this horrible disease! It's no longer a death sentence.
Yesterday, two of my kids walked with my mom, dad, and I in the Komen Foundation's Race for the Cure to raise money for research. This month is breast cancer awareness month. In all three of my family members, a mammogram caught their breast cancer and saved their lives. So I'm asking ALL of you to click on the title above (Save the Ta-Ta's) or here to go to The Breast Cancer Site. Every click provides sponsorship money to give mammograms to women who can't afford them. I click every day because I know how important this is in my life and the lives of other women!
And don't forget to do those self-breast exams, ladies! If you're not sure how, go to www.breastcancer.org for the correct steps!
Here's to you, Mom, Grandma Jackey, and Aunt Barb, along with countless others!