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Painfully Aware of Breast Cancer

Editor Kirsten Dize shares her experience with the disease and thoughts on October as Breast Cancer Awareness month.

I sometimes feel that breast cancer awareness month is a misnomer. Most of us are aware of breast cancer—painfully so.

For me, breast cancer is something that has been a part of my life since I was a child. My mom’s mother died as a result of breast cancer when I was seven and my mom was diagnosed when I was 13.

My dad’s mother was also diagnosed with breast cancer, but as opposed to my mom and her mom, the diagnosis came after menopause.

I’m sure many of us have similar stories of friends or relatives who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. For those of us who have had a loved one stricken with the disease, it's hard to forget.

I remember my mom saying she felt it was a question of when, not if, she would be diagnosed. It's a fear that runs through our family.

For me, there is no such thing as a month of being unaware of breast cancer.

While a reminder is not necessary for me, I have a soft spot in my heart every time I see those pink ribbon pins on suited NFL announcers during the month of October. When sports teams, businesses and organizations opt to wear pink or donate proceeds to cancer research, it's something I want to cheer for.

For me, October is not about awareness, but about support and solidarity. It means support for people like my mom—who is coming up on 12 years as a cancer survivor. It means support for those who are losing their hair because of radiation and for scared kids worrying about their moms.

It means commitment to putting time and money toward curing a disease that impacts our mothers, sisters, friends and by extension everyone those women touch with their lives.

It means that, at least for the month of October, breast cancer is as much a part of everyone else's lives as it is of mine.

How has breast cancer impacted your life? Share your stories along with mine by leaving a comment.

Leslie Schildgen October 12, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Man. . . Kristen. . . you write beautifully.
Jill Bracewell October 13, 2012 at 02:51 AM
I hope and pray that your relatives diagnoses don't become yours. I found a lump in May, had a mammo and sono, and it looked good. The doc said there was nothing worrisome, but if it got any bigger, head straight to a surgeon. My appointment is next week, as not only did it get bigger, but there are now 2 more growing next to the 1st one. I am praying that it is benign, but if it is not, I will start my journey in a positive way. My boobs do not define who I am, how I live, or how I love. They are vessels that God gave me to feed my babies, and they did a great job! Ladies, get yourselves checked, do your monthly breast exams, and stay proactive!! Prayers to anyone affected by this disease. I hope one day they do find a cure!!!
Bernadette October 13, 2012 at 09:13 PM
I too found a lump in my left breast in April of 2012. My mother has died from breast cancer in 1998, so frequent mammograms became routine for me. The last mammogram was negative prior to discovering the lump. Currently, I just had a bilateral mastectomy and had completed chemotherapy prior to surgery. Radiation is the next phase for me. I'm positive because the medical field/treatment has improved drastically since my mother passed. I thank GOD for all of the research and support worldwide.
Jill Bracewell October 14, 2012 at 02:12 AM
My thoughts and prayers to you Bernadette for a full, safe, and speedy recovery!!
Bernadette October 16, 2012 at 01:17 AM
Thank you Jill. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers too. Take care.

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