In the Fall of 2006, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. The outlook was pretty bleak. I was in my final year of graduate school, and it was very devastating news to receive. How could a woman so strong, so vibrant, so loving, and so caring develop a disease that began to eat away at her body? It was something that I could not comprehend, but her persevering spirit gave me, my father, and sister hope that she would recover. Most importantly, it was her faith that carried her through. During that year, I offered to take a sabbatical from school to come home to Indiana to help in caring for her. My father had to bear the burden of being her only caretaker, which, in my opinion was unfair. However, both of my parents made it very clear that I was to remain in school, as well as stay on track so that I could graduate.
I was not there for the chemotherapy. I missed the long nights of my mother vomiting, while my father rubbed her back and shoulders each time she visited the bathroom. I did not witness her hands weaken, as she struggled to open jars of ingredients that she so loved to use when she cooked. I was not there as she developed spots and blemishes throughout her back and arms. And I did not experience when a port was inserted just inches from her collarbone. For a while I really regretted not being physically present. Because quite honestly, there were not any guarantees. But by being disciplined, listening to every order of her physician, and also through the support of her church and local community (it pays to be nice to others, as it will return when you need it most), she survived.
While she was sick I learned some valuable lessons about my mother:
- Nothing could hold her down.
- She never gave up.
- She loved her family enough to shield us from the worst parts of her illness.
I did graduate Spring 2007, making all As. And there she was, by my side, smiling wide, with the cutest low-cut, healed, happy, and proud.
Each year, October rolls around. We recognize October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I did not give much thought to it prior to 2006. I was in support of breast cancer research, medical care, and finding the cure. I treated the month casually. I wore pink, but I also love wearing pink!
But now, breast cancer holds a much more serious tone as my heart is drawn to it, as my mother suffered from the disease. Ultimately, this is not a disease that effects women, it effects us all. Although I did not feel the pains my mother felt, it pained me that a person so loving, had to go through something so punishing. But she did it.
Fellas, as we face the month of October, show support to the women in your family, and the women in your community. Don't be afraid to remind the women you care about to get mammograms. Don't be afraid do something nice for someone who has a loved one dealing with breast cancer. Most of all, don't be too nervous to reach out to someone you know who may currently be dealing with the disease. And if you can't do any of this, wear pink.
Wear pink. This non-vocal gesture, will speak volumes loud for those to see, and recognize the awareness and unity of this month. Breast cancer does not discriminate, is not friendly, and does not come to love us and bring us presents. We all know someone who has been touched by it. However, the more aware we become, year after year, we will continue to always have an edge on breast cancer.
I urge you, do not let October go by without expressing at minimum one gesture in eliminating the disease. It is an easy sacrifice, in honor of those who truly deserve it.