This post is dedicated to three amazing moms in my life who bravely and successfully fought breast cancer; my mother, my mother-in-law, and my sister-in-law.
I was 16 the first time breast cancer affected my life when my mother was diagnosed with Stage 1 Breast Cancer. Her OB/GYN had referred her to a surgeon due to some abnormalities in her mammogram. A biopsy revealed a 1.9 cm tumor in her right breast which was cancerous. At that point, she met with an Oncologist to decide what her treatment options were. My mother ultimately had a lumpectomy, removing 17 lymph nodes, and started 6 weeks of radiation treatment.
As a young sixteen year old girl, I would describe myself as a self-absorbed teen who did not grasp how stressful the situation was for my mother. Now, as a mother myself, I can only begin to imagine the stress she was under. She not only had to worry about herself, but what might happen to her children, too. I can remember her going to get radiation treatment every morning for 6 weeks before going to work. Then she would put in a full day’s work and come home to her family (husband, two children) and the other responsibilities like dinner, laundry and house work, just to name a few. In some ways, I am almost glad I was so naïve to what she was going through. There were days when she was tired, but I didn’t understand until becoming a mother myself how overwhelming this time must have been for her. Her role of mother did not stop just because she was fighting breast cancer.
Almost three years later as a busy college student, I was living a little over an hour from home. My mother was still battling breast cancer since the initial treatment plan of removing the tumor and radiation therapy hadn’t been as successful as doctors had hoped. The area where the tumor had been removed wasn’t healing and fluid continued to build up. The doctors recommended a hyperbaric treatment plan in hopes that would help it to finally heal. However, even after 32 treatments of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, there was little improvement. At that point, she was told that she needed a mastectomy. I, no longer a naïve highschooler, was genuinely worried about her mental and physical well-being. I was much more aware of how scary this was for her and me. Plus, I wasn’t living at home, so I couldn’t be there for her if she needed me.
Then, at the age of 30, because of my family history of breast cancer and a very caring OB/GYN, my insurance approved for me to receive my first mammogram. I was the mom of two little boys and knew that putting my health first was a priority because of them. After years of hearing horror stories about mammograms, I was prepared for an awful experience. Overall, I would describe it as relatively quick and not nearly as painful as I imagined. I received results two days later that indicated that nothing was found. This was a relief and I am thrilled that I was able to get this mammogram at such a young age. It was recommended that I receive a second exam five years later, which I am quickly approaching.
Last year my mother underwent genetic testing to see if she carried the breast cancer gene. This test involved her doing blood work and then waiting for the results. The results ruled out the majority of abnormalities believed to be responsible for hereditary susceptibility to breast or ovarian cancer. This was extremely good news and I was thrilled to find this out because the more knowledge I have about breast cancer, the better. Information about breast cancer gives you more power. When you know the statistics and what you should be doing to prevent breast cancer, you have more power over your health.
- Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women. So, as you read this post, you are most likely thinking of a woman in your life that has battled or is currently battling breast cancer.
- One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
- Breast cancer is the second leading cancer death among women.
- The median age for a woman with breast cancer is 61.
- Women with certain risk factors, such as family history, have a higher chance of getting breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Informational Websites:
Mission Regional Medical Center Mission Pink
One event in the Rio Grande Valley area that supports Breast Cancer Awareness Month is the MRMC Mission Pink 5k run/walk that takes place the first Saturday in October. This year it takes place on Saturday, October 4, at Mission Medical Regional Center, 900 S. Bryan Rd., Mission, Texas. Registration will be available on site beginning at 6:30 am. Registration fees are $10 for children, $15 for teenagers, and $25 for adults. This event is a lot of fun and includes entertainment and a lot of inspirational stories. You can sign up as an individual or as a group. Some participants come in costume while others create their own team shirts like the one in the picture.