What better way to honor women on National Women’s Day than to talk about our boobs. We all have them and we’re all at risk for breast cancer. I want to tell you about my own mom’s journey and how she is an inspiration to me for not only fighting breast cancer but for showing me how to be a woman of strength, grace and Godliness while in the battle.
It was July of 2007 and I was talking on the phone with my mom as I was leaving my mammogram appointment. She was telling me that she had found a lump in her breast when my dad had rolled over and accidentally elbowed her in the chest and the subsequent “grab” led her and Dad both to feel it. “About the size of an egg”, they both said. I said, “Hey we’re the same!” I told her that I had to have an ultrasound right after my mammogram on what the doctor thought was a fluid filled cyst. She now says that she knew in her spirit that we were NOT the same and she would be right.
Stage 3-B invasive lobular breast cancer! THAT was the diagnosis that shocked us all! There was no family history of cancer. She had regular mammograms and her mammogram the previous December of 2006, less than one year earlier, indicated no cancer. The breast cancer specialist she saw would review that previous mammogram and concur that nothing was detected on the previous year’s mammogram.
I like to say that my mom was on the deluxe cancer treatment plan. Chemo, then a double mastectomy. This form of breast cancer is the most likely to spread to the other breast. Pathology revealed that there was no cancer in her other breast, but the cells were atypical so it seemed she had chosen wisely. She then underwent radiation before her reconstruction.
Although I’m certain my mom would not call herself a “fighter”, she chose to fight her disease in a brave battle that for a hot minute she gave thought to NOT taking on. It seemed too daunting and too tiring when you’re already weary from lesser fights. She chose the fight, not for herself alone but for those of us who loved her, wanted her, needed her!
That’s why we call her and thousands upon thousands of women every day, WARRIORS! When you have the courage to take on a fight that you don’t know if you have the strength or ability to win. A warrior knows the challenge ahead may result in pain, loss and disfigurement whether you win or loose. When you bravely fight knowing it may not end up how you hope it will, YOU ARE A WARRIOR!
Lessons From Mama
Can I tell you one more amazing thing about this woman I call, Mom? When the going gets tough, she teaches me what it means to be a woman. And not just any woman, but a Godly Woman.
In those very early days after her breast cancer diagnosis, when every feeling was just so raw, this woman fell to her knees and began to pray as anyone would. But what spoke to me so loudly was that she didn’t do all the TALKING kind of praying; she did the LISTENING kind too. She asked God to allow her to pray how He would. And as her own heart was broken, she asked to know what breaks HIS. (Yeah, I’m bawling just writing this and I already did my makeup.)
If we pray like we should, it’s a conversation between us and God. It’s not a conversation when we don’t give the other party a chance to interject.
God spoke clearly to her in answer. Her peace came when He reminded her that the sickness of sin is far worse than any physical disease we might encounter. Her cancer was not going to affect her eternal outcome, even IF she didn’t get this earthly victory.
It didn’t make the battle ahead physically easier. She still lost her breasts, hair and health for a time. But it put everything into perspective.
Breast Cancer Awareness is EVERY MONTH
It would seem like I’m late (or maybe I’m also just really early) in posting this outside of October, the month we deem as breast cancer awareness month. I’d like to say that it was intentional that I held it until now, but it wasn’t. It’s just that busyness has been kicking my butt. However, when I was trying to decide whether to share this now or wait an entire year I had a specific thought.
EVERY MONTH is breast cancer awareness month if you are a cancer survivor, or if you’re currently braving the fight. EVERYDAY you are acutely aware of the risk if you’ve lost someone to this disease or have a mother or sister who have had breast cancer. EVERY YEAR you are keenly aware if you are a carrier of the BRCA gene, an inherited mutation of the cancer gene that may put you at higher risk of getting breast or ovarian cancer.
Be Aware of Your Own Rack
Just like my mom, you get your yearly mammogram but how’s a girl to really know WHAT to do to catch cancer early? Well, mammograms are only ONE step in our detection of breast cancer. You must know my mom to really think this is funny, but she had said to me at one point, “I thought that THAT breast was looking perkier. Kind of like I was a teenager.”
Okay ladies, our breasticles (that’s what my sisters and I like to call these female dangling appendages) don’t get perkier on their own! After puberty, it’s pretty much all downhill after that…. Literally! This is why self-breast exams and taking note of ANY changes in the appearance of our breasts is so important! We sometimes like to skip that step.
Keep an eye on yourself. No matter how you feel about your body, take a look at those ta-tas in the mirror every now and then. Give those babies a little massage once a month. Treat them well, love them. They aren’t the end all and beat all of our bodies, but keeping them healthy is important to keeping yourself healthy. Your family wants you around for a long time to come. And if you find ANYTHING in or on those beauties (whether they’re nubbins or juggins) early enough, there’s a good chance your outcome will be a good one!
A wonderful piece on our momma. I’m thankful I was working with the right person to help us get a quick appointment with a great specialist at Mercy too. I would not have felt as comfortable with her care where she was going in Lancaster.
Agreed! I thank God that he put you in touch with the right people at the right time.
Beautifully written. You made me cry too! I really admire your mom and all others fighting cancer. Thank you for the post and the reminder to not just get mammograms but to look and feel. Love your blog! Keep it up!
Thanks so much Cindy. It’s so easy to just forget to do those exams and take a look for ANY changes. Even when we know the risks of not doing it.
She is also a wonderful sister-in-law! I have lkkked to her guidance many times.
When someone writes from the heart, we the readers are allowed into your world. THANK YOU for sharing this Paula, so beautifully written. You gorgeous Mumma is one hell of a warrior. xx
Thanks so much Bev. My mom will never call herself a warrior but I know she is. Oh, and P.S. Hope your recovery isn’t long! XO
Said a prayer for your mom this evening. I’m so sorry she’s had to go through this. I had breast cancer at 36 and again two years later (not a recurrence, but a new primary the second time). It’s been 20 years out since the first one. I never would have imagined it while I was in the middle of it, but the Lord has brought many blessings as a result of it. And I love Him more because of the struggle and how I grew to know Him more deeply. I pray your mom and your family are brought even closer to each other and to our dear Savior because of your mom’s battle. And I ask for her to be healed. I love how you described your mom. She sounds wonderful.