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.

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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Cancer, Mother Of All Diseases

Despite the pain and loss that the disease has called, it is fascinating to understand the inner workings of this disease biological to us.

This semester in college, I decided to expand my horizons and sign up for a class called "Cancer, Mother of All Diseases." Little did I know that within two class sessions, I knew that my life was going to change with the information and knowledge that I was acquiring. Everyone is affected by cancer — whether they themselves have been diagnosed, or their loved one.

Two years ago, a 21-year-old man told me, "I do not know of anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer." And by now, even he has been affected. Cancer is a process genetic to our makeup and important for the concept of evolution. There will never be a time when cancer will be eradicated as it is a process innate to us. However, the rates of cancer incidence can be reduced through preventative measures.

There are many types of cancer and this killer term cannot be summed up in a simple sentence or two or a treatment of two as this term is an umbrella for various types. These types include colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, melanoma, and so many others.

I never realized what a drastic effect this disease has had in my life until I started really examining the details. My grandmother passed away from cancer and my time with her was significantly shortened. My best friend's father passed away from cancer. My classmate passed away from cancer.

This killer disease may not be able to be stopped completely but we should take the precautions to avoid diagnosis in the first place. No one ever thinks they will hear the words, "I'm sorry, but you have cancer" however this diagnosis is quite real and happens to more people that we could fathom within the course of life.

Cancer affects everybody, especially those pursuing the medical field as one day, they will be interacting with patients who have been diagnosed and need help and support as their body turns against them. The role of the doctor when dealing with the cancer is to help the patient have a normal lifespan reducing the number of deaths that occur because of this disease.

I am very excited about the wisdom and knowledge that I am learning through this class as it is beneficial to both my future career plans as well as understanding the nature of this disease and its mechanics. There are many extra, fun classes at Arizona State University to take however three days into my semester, I already know that this class will be my favorite as the knowledge is important to understand. Despite the pain and loss that the disease has called, it is fascinating to understand the inner workings of this disease biological to us.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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The Sad Silence Of Autism

A Short Story of Child Who Can't Speak

Being nonverbal can be so depressing. You have all these things you want to say but physically can't, and no one understands what you want or how you feel. It's so frustrating. Fortunately, this is not me but, unfortunately, this is the everyday life of my 5-year-old son Christian. He was diagnosed with autism at 3 years old and has yet to be able to call me mommy.

I've always been the level-headed one of the family who looked at everything realistically and searched for solutions. I always wanted to know why. But when my husband and I found out that Christian was autistic, there really was no why to find out since research leaves it a mystery. Instead, I focused on what the next steps were to help him. My husband was speechless, upset, and it was a bit surreal for him. However, I was eager to do whatever was necessary short of medication. Super-mom mode activated!

Then the reality of waiting lists set in. We had to wait to get him into therapy, but Christian's life wasn't going to stop just because he didn't have a therapist right then. So I read, I learned, and when he finally started speech therapy, he prospered. Now, fast-forward to present day where his speech therapy has been placed on pause and he's learning in occupational therapy. He's still doing well, but he just can't verbalize. We know it's in him because he's had a few words here and there, but it's stopped.

His counting has gone from sounds of numbers to random noises and skipping numbers. He gives no feedback in trying to learn new words and sounds and doesn't even participate in an alphabet game that he started. Regression at its finest. With all the eagerness and strength I had before, I found this discouraging. In fact, I try to prepare myself for the realization that he may never learn to speak. And it was this thought that drove me into such a depression that I couldn't even look at my child without wanting to cry.

What many people don't know is that when you have one child with autism, your chances of having another child with it skyrockets. How paranoid can that make a parent? Pretty damned paranoid. So much so that everything that Christian's baby brother does is being watched and calculated.

I get so worried that he won't speak either that I judge his development based on other babies his age. Truthfully, I use them as a blueprint. I know I shouldn't, but I worry that neither of my kids will have a typical life.

Out of all of Christian's challenges, I think that his inability to speak is the hardest one to live with. It's not just hard for his parents but for him as well because he's trying so hard to communicate but we just don't get it much of the time. These are the moments I have to remind myself that things take time, especially good things. And the progress he's already made is nothing short of amazing.

For more information about autism and resources, visit www.autismspeaks.org.

Cover Image Credit: Carolyn Poindexter

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