It’s Not October Anymore, But Breast Cancer Still Matters

It’s Not October Anymore, But Breast Cancer Still Matters

Each month brings awareness to a specific illness, but that should not be the only time we are recognizing these illnesses.
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It’s not October anymore, but breast cancer still matters

Each month brings awareness to a specific illness. But, that should not be the only month we are recognizing these illnesses. These illnesses affect more people then you may think, and many emotions may come to mind.

Each day, more people are diagnosed with one of these illnesses. You may never truly realize how bad it is... until it happens to you or your family.

On November 10, 2015, is when I truly understood.

I can remember sitting down with my mother, sister, dad and grandmother after my mom had come home from the hospital after a long day of surgery. Little did I know, the surgery was the first step she had to take after being diagnosed with Breast Cancer.

I will never forget hearing the words “I have breast cancer”, coming out of my mom’s mouth.

That was the worst moment of my life. I was confused, devastated, scared and shocked.

That is something I never wanted or expected to hear coming from my mother.

I had many questions and I wanted to know the answers to all of them, because I was terrified.

My mom informed us that luckily, she was one of the luckier ones and the doctors caught it earlier than most do. She told us that she was going to be undergoing 8 weeks of radiation starting after Christmas. To be completely honest, I didn’t know what radiation really was and I was concerned; hearing that my mom was going to have to go through this every day.

After researching everything I needed to know about Breast Cancer, I found out what radiation was going to be like, and how I could really help my mom.

My family knew we really needed to step up to the plate and be there to support our mom. We needed to be there for her, just like she had always been there for us.

My dad had been her rock through it all, he really kept her together and helped her keep strong.

Along with my sister and I, who continued to help out around the house, and tried cooking dinner (even though it wasn’t nearly as good as her cooking), and we were always there for her and make sure she had everything she needed.

Each week, my sister and I would pick a day and go surprise my mom at radiation with flowers, a card or anything that we knew would cheer her up. We loved surprising her, and she loved when we went and sat with her until she was done.

One thing that stood out to me throughout the two months of radiation was that my mom was strong through the whole thing, and she really set an amazing example for my sister and I. Not once, did I see her give up, or say anything negative. She was so positive in such a negative situation, which showed how strong she is. She never gave up and continued on with her everyday life, went to work, and continued to care for us, no matter how she was feeling that day. My mom is truly my inspiration and I will always look up to her. She taught me that whenever things get tough, you don’t give up and you fight harder.

On February 16, 2016, after 8 long weeks of radiation, my mom’s last day of radiation came around. That is one day I will truly never forget. My sister, dad and I went with my mom for her final radiation and waited for her to be done. Seeing her walking out of radiation for the last time really brought tears to our eyes. My mom did it, she is a Breast Cancer survivor. We had our family over for dinner that night to celebrate, which meant so much to us. Throughout this process, we have learned one really important thing. We learned to appreciate the little things in life.

Although my family was faced with this terrible thing, we learned that good things do come out of every negative thing.

The good things that came out of this were that we have learned to not take things for granted, and we learned to appreciate the little things. It is nice when my family sits together at dinner, and often times I just sit back and smile and realize how much I appreciate my family and the wonderful meal that my mom prepares. This is something that is extremely important to realize in everyday life. There are so many things to be grateful for every day, you just need to sit back and realize that.

After my mom was officially a breast cancer survivor, we did not stop recognizing and bringing awareness to Breast Cancer.

In April of 2016, I started the group “Team Tanya” in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk in Boston, MA. I wanted to give back, and also help all of the people who are affected by this, just like my mom.

I began to advertise my team that I dedicated to my mom, a breast cancer survivor. We were overwhelmed with the amount of support we received from family members, friends, and people in our community.

We started “Team Tanya” in April with just my mom, my dad, my sister and I with $100 raised towards this event. By the time the event came on October 2, 2016 we had over 30 walkers and were ranked #12 out of #650 teams for raising over $9,000.

Participating in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk was one of the best things I have ever done. Seeing everyone supporting my mom in “Team Tanya” t-shirts and just having everyone walking with us, supporting us, was truly amazing.

I loved seeing all of the people who participated in this event and seeing everyone in their team shirts supporting their loved ones. This event is truly amazing, and I am so thankful that I was able to participate in this.

The 2016 walk was successful, so we participated again in October of 2017. This year was just as amazing, and we are extremely grateful for our family and friends for once again joining us this year.

Walking across the finish line with my mom is something I will never forget. All of the emotions come to you all at once, right as you are crossing the finish line. That is when things really hit you. That is when I realized how lucky I am to have my mom to cross the finish line with me. My family and I are extremely lucky, along with all of the other groups who participated in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk.

For all of you who are diagnosed with these terrible illnesses, please be strong. Keep fighting, you can do anything as long as you believe in yourself. You got this!!

One thing my mom always said to me was “You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only option you have.” I will always remember that quote, and I know when things get rough, I can get through it. And this goes for anyone else who might be experiencing these feelings.

I truly am grateful for my mom, a Breast Cancer survivor.

I love you always, Mom.

Cover Image Credit: Elizabeth Lincoln

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An Open Letter To The Judgmental People In My Hometown

Imperfections are what gives a diamond its value.
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Dear judgemental, simple minded people from my hometown,

I am sorry that I have never met your level of perfection.

Coming from a small town, everyone settles to the norm of the people around them. Unlike you all, I have always been a little bit different.

I've never understood why everyone always seems to feel the need to talk down to the next person. People love to gossip about a situation as long as the situation has nothing to do with them. For every move I made, someone was always there to bring out the negativity in the situation. You all are always sweeping around somebody else's doorstep when I know your doorstep is not clean. Maybe it is time to buy a new broom. I know that I cannot please everybody and that I will also not be liked by everybody. However, I deserve respect just as the next person.

SEE ALSO: Forgiving Someone Who Didn't Ask For It

I hope for the sake of the future generations of our small town, you all can learn to be more accepting to change.

I hope that no one judges your children like some of you all have judged me. I hope that the people that you love and care about are welcomed and accepted for who they are.

If we put as much time into being better people or helping others like you put into judging others, the world would be a much better place.

Imperfections are what gives a diamond its value. Pebbles are perfectly round. I'd much rather be a diamond, one in a million, than a pebble that fits in.

Sincerely,

The one whose every move you criticize

Cover Image Credit: Haley Williamson

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An Inside Look At Alzheimer's

This is just a little introduction to the journey my family and I have been on with my grandma while she struggled with Alzheimer's.

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My grandmother, my mom's mom, was the most beautiful soul in this world, even throughout her battle with Alzheimer's. My grandma's name is Joan Kohanski (but us grandkids called her Baba) and she was born on February 22, 1938. She was diagnosed with polio in her legs at the young age of 14. She has walked with canes ever since then but lived such an adventurous life. She married my papa (Ron) on August 8, 1959. The first daughter of theirs' was my Aunt Karen on May 25, 1961. My mom (Gail) came along on February 10, 1964. Finally, my Aunt Julie (we call her T.T.) was born on June 13, 1966.

They took many family vacations, many boat rides on my papa's boat on Lake Erie, and even a cross-country road trip in their R.V. Our family is so much fun when we get together for events and holidays, but we all agree that Baba would make everything feel whole again. Baba, as told by my mom, loved her family. It made her entire world go 'round. She would have sacrificed anything for her family and she did in many cases. One time, my Baba, Papa, and all the girls went to Cedar Point for the day. Baba didn't ride any rides that day, so she selflessly walked around all day on her canes and had blisters when the day was over just for her family. She loved her grandkids, all nine of them (me included). She was also very funny and had a great sense of humor, and I see her live through my mom every day.

I'm not sure if anyone has ever heard of this before, but supposedly, cardinals are your loved ones making themselves known that they are still there with you.

The amount of times that I have seen cardinals since her passing is uncanny and nobody can tell me that it's just a coincidence. The funniest part about it is that she lived on Cardinal Drive when my mom was growing up, and that's still where my papa lives today. Another really special thing to me is that I am part of the sorority that she was in, Delta Gamma. It makes me feel as if I have my own special connection with her that no one can take away, since all of my cousins and siblings that are older than me remember her before she was diagnosed, and I have a vague memory of it.

Baba was diagnosed with Alzheimer's around 2006 and lived with it until May 12, 2016. Her struggle with this horrible disease was not easy, certainly on her, but any of us, especially Papa. Papa took care of her at home until he was unable to anymore, which then he made the decision to put her in a care facility. She started out in a typical room by herself. As her condition got worse, she moved into the Alzheimer's unit with other people who had the same illness. If anyone has never had the first-hand experience with a loved one suffering from this disease, it is truly the most heartbreaking thing in the world. I would never wish that on my worst enemy. You start to see the person you love and look up to the most slowly become less and less of themselves, and it's not their fault. You learn to forgive them for the times that they forget your name and who you are. You know that it's really not them and they can't help it.

The whole journey of her suffering has been such a hardship to everyone in my family. It's probably the worst thing that any of us will ever go through. I am so happy with where she is right now because I know that she is in a better place, and rid of any and all illness. It's hard to come to terms that she isn't here with us any longer, and it's almost selfish of me to question "Why us?". I would do anything to have her back today but I know that there is always a reason why and I have to trust it. If you or someone you know has a family member or loved one that has Alzheimer's, just know that you are certainly not alone and other people totally understand.

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