Today is the first day of October, which starts the month-long celebration— if you will— for Breast Cancer Awareness.
It’s also the first October since my mom was diagnosed with that specific type of cancer.
Yesterday afternoon, while taking the term “lazy Sunday” pretty literally, I decided to tackle my closet and “declutter.” While doing so, I came across an eight-year-old t-shirt I received during my freshman year of college.
Every year, Ohio University— my alma mater— puts on a “Moms Weekend.” During my freshman year, there was also a walk for breast cancer on that same Saturday — so me, my mom, and a group of my friends and their moms all decided to participate.
As a result, we all received that shirt I mentioned earlier and finding it all these years later made me realize just how uncertain the future is.
At least two of the women I walked with were diagnosed with breast cancer since that day eight years ago — my mom being one of them.
It’s crazy to look back on that day; a day where we didn’t have a care in the world, a day where we thought we were walking in support of other people, other women. I had no idea that we were walking for my mom or my friend’s mom at the time.
My mom had no idea she was walking for herself.
At that moment, we were walking for breast cancer, but my mom didn’t have the slightest clue that in roughly 90 months time, she would be undergoing six rounds of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, physical therapy, radiation, and a hysterectomy.
She had no idea she would lose her hair, her eyebrows, her eyelashes, or her own breasts.
During that walk, she didn’t even know she was carrying the BRCA 1 gene, also known as the breast cancer gene.
Life has the ability to come full circle so unexpectedly. It’s weird to realize that something I did in the past would have such an impact on my future and not even know it until eight years later.
According to BreastCancer.org, one in every eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
BreastCancer.org also reports:
In 2018, an estimated 266,120 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 63,960 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.
And about 2,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men in 2018.
All of this is to say, don’t take your life for granted. Use every moment you can to be kind, generous, charitable, and helpful because you just never know when you are going to need someone to be all of those things for you.
And to all the women — past, present, and future — who have been directly affected by breast cancer; stay strong, stay positive, stay resilient, but most importantly KEEP FIGHTING.
You are not alone and you will never have to fight alone.