October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so I’m here to give you the mommy spin on why this matters. We all know we need to self check for lumps, but how many of you do it? Even if you’re under 40? On a regular basis? Do you know your familial history with cancer? Does your primary doctor? OB/Gyn? Have you had a mammogram if you’re over forty? How many of you have been too scared and thought, “That won’t happen to me?” Get over it.
According to the American Cancer Society, research shows that 1 in every 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. There are twelve mamas who write for this blog. At least 1 of us will fight the battle at some point. Add in the part time bloggers and it almost ups the ante to 2.
Now, consider that Connecticut is the leading state with the most invasive breast cancer incidences (per 100,000 women, American Cancer Society, 2013 ). The somewhat good news: Connecticut is only somewhere in the middle on the list of deaths from invasive breast cancer incidences (per 1000,00 women, American Cancer Society, 2013 ).
Do I have your attention? Good.
I lost my mom to breast cancer 4 years ago, and her sister 20 years earlier. Both of my dad’s sisters survived their battles. For me that is 4 direct blood lines linked to breast cancer, one of which was a diagnosis before the age of 50, and a red flag if there ever was one.
When we decided it was time to have kids the first thing I did was to have the BRCA I & II gene mutation tests. BRCA I and II are the two most common gene mutations that are linked to breast and ovarian cancers. According to the National Cancer Institute, “Specific inherited mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 increase the risk of female breast and ovarian cancers, and they have been associated with increased risks of several additional types of cancer. Together, BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations account for about 20 to 25 percent of hereditary breast cancers … and about 5 to 10 percent of all breast cancers. … Breast cancers associated with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations tend to develop at younger ages than sporadic breast cancers.” I knew that even if it meant not having a child of my own, the pain of wondering was ENDING with me. Even my doctor was shocked when the tests came back negative for both.
I’m certainly not off the hook. My own pediatric cancer battle, coupled with the high degree of ALL cancers in my direct blood line (add two more deaths and 1 survival,) and I’m a ticking time bomb.
I took care of my mom in the last 8 months of her life, when the breast cancer had spread to her liver and spine. She died two month earlier than she had been given to live. I’m grateful for that. I had wished for it every night and every day. She had lost her pride and her dignity. She was humiliated and ashamed. Most importantly, she was in pain. No child should have to wish death on a parent to make things better.
This is my life. I didn’t choose it, but I do choose to do something about it – especially now that I have a child; a daughter who is named after a grandmother she will never meet. I don’t want A to ever have to wish for my death to ease my pain from cancer. Or for your child to wish it on you. I don’t want our children to even have to worry that they might have to.
Every year I participate in The American Cancer Society’s Strides For Breast Cancer. This year I’ve started a team for the Fairfield County Mom’s Blog in the hopes that we moms can make a stand for our children. Join us for a 5K (3.1 miles) walk on Sunday, October 27 at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport with a rolling start between 9 -11 a.m. There’s lots of free swag, entertainment, vendors, information on your health, and, of course, a whole ‘lotta pink! No fundraising is mandatory. You simply need to walk and show your support – though a donation is always a good thing (wink, wink, nod, nod). It isn’t a race so you can go as fast or as slow as you want. Strollers are welcome. If we can get a team of 10 by Oct. 15, we’ll get t-shirts made up.
Do it for yourself. Do it for your kids.
Please respond to this post to contact me about your participation. Learn more about Strides For Breast Cancer and sign up for team FCMB with this link: