Monday, October 3, 2011

In Honor of Strong Women: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October, as I'm sure you're aware, is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Not to sound insensitive, 3 or 4 years ago, this "cause" was important to me but it was more a general "let's cure all cancer" kinda thought. Today though, it is more on my mind as "let's find a cure NOW" because I know that my daughters (even my son) are more likely to get it than I realized years ago.

About 3 years ago, my husband's grandmother called me and told me that she had breast cancer and that she was having surgery to have her lump removed. The whole situation was fairly awkward for me because cancer is a huge deal, but even more so for a woman who has lost almost her entire family to cancer. I had no idea how to tell my husband. We ended up traveling to see her a few days after she had her surgery. She was pretty shaken up about the whole thing. To this day, I know that when she has a mammogram, she gets a bit nervous. I imagine that I'd be more than nervous though. Downright crazy paranoid. I am happy to say that removing that one lump took out all the cancer and it was the only treatment she needed. She has been cancer free since then. She takes care of her body pretty well and is constantly advising me how I should be taking care of my own. I used to write it off as "oh, that's just Grandma" but I think its time I start listening to her. She's incredibly healthy and active for some one her age. She volunteers at her senior center and keeps a very clean house and socializes. I hope I can be like that when I'm over 80!

Toward the end of last year, my own grandmother was informed that she had breast cancer. I went through different emotions when I found out she had it. At first I was sad for her. My grandfather had died just a few months before that and her closest child, my mom, is about 5 hours away. She has an amazing support group with her church but it was still hard to know that she didn't really have some one there with her. Then I was scared. She told us that she had to have surgery, radiation and chemo. That's a lot for some one to go through. Especially an older woman (even though she doesn't look or act like it) who lives alone. She lives on the top of a mountain, has a horse, 4 dogs (hahaha, I think... she's always adopting some poor needy puppy) and only God knows how many cats. She has farm property to take care of and a long drive way that gets snowed on more often than not. I was worried about her. Then I was proud. My grandmother has survived so many other difficult things in her life that I knew she'd handle this with the same stubbornness and perseverance as she has the rest. And she has. I believe that the doctors were able to remove the cancer almost immediately. However, there's a protein that the body produces and that protein being present in her body was going to cause the cancer to come back full force if they didn't take care of it immediately. Hence the radiation and chemo. My mom and dad took care of her while she was going through a good bit of the treatments as well as her son and one of her step daughters. Not to mention all the wonderful people from her church. She still works, she was line dancing and volunteering at her hospital. She takes care of her home and pets as well as sings in the church choir and travels by herself up to New Hampshire. She was able to laugh at her hair loss and had a blast picking out different wigs. She is an amazing woman and I am proud to call her family.

My husband's aunt works for a non profit company called Personal Care Council. They have a program called Look Good... Feel Better. It is an amazing program for women who have cancer. They offer a class that lasts around 2 hours that teaches women how to handle the different changes their bodies will go through when fighting cancer. They provide support groups, as well as free make up with make up applications tutorials and advice and skin care products. Since they work with the American Cancer Society, they are able to connect women with benefits offered by the ACS for free. The link is http://lookgoodfeelbetter.org/ If you're able to make a donation to this company, please do. Also, the program is free so if you know a woman going through breast cancer, or any kind of cancer, please pass on this information. It's an amazing opportunity. And trust me, they really do hook you up with some pretty amazing stuff.

Breast cancer has become an immediate danger for me, not because of my grandmothers or even my mom or myself. My daughters now have a history of breast cancer on both sides of the family. That means that the possibility of them getting it eventually is greater. That devastates me. If I can do something to prevent that, you can bet your butt that I will. I hope that any one that can do something or anything to help prevent our daughters, the future of this world, our loved ones from suffering from this disease. I dated a guy once who's mother had breast cancer. She eventually died of it a few years ago. I saw how much the cancer affected her body, her personality and the whole family. It was scary and heartbreaking. I'm terrified to think that that's a possibility for my daughters.

Other than support the women we know that have breast cancer in any way we can and to donate money to organizations that raise funds for research and testing, there's not a whole lot that the average person can do to cure cancer. But if we all do what we can, wont that get us just that much closer to finding a cure? And if we find a cure for one kind of cancer, wont it be easier to find a cure of other kinds of cancers? I'm just speculating. Just a thought.

In light of October being breast cancer awareness month, I just wanted to give a shout out to two amazing women that I know and love and care about who have battled breast cancer and are survivors. They are an inspiration and if I have to have women in my family that have cancer, I'm glad that they're two strong persevering women.

Several organizations that you can donate money for the research and treatments of breast cancer are:

Look Good... Feel Better http://lookgoodfeelbetter.org/
American Cancer Society http://www.cancer.org/
Ink 4 Pink Atlanta http://ink4pink.org/
National Breast Cancer Foundation http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/
National Breast Cancer Awareness Month http://www.nbcam.org/
Susan Komen http://ww5.komen.org/
Breast Cancer Awareness Store (every purchase helps fund mamograms for women in need) https://www.thebreastcancersite.com/

Help this Wannabe Supermom in the fight to cure breast cancer and save our daughters and their futures!

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