This is a difficult post for me to write, and part of the reason I haven’t posted much lately. However, it is something that we would like to share with you now.
This summer, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She and I would like to share her story with you, as it is so very important to us.
My mom works for a hospital system that recently began to offer the best thing ever: employees can go see a certain set of nurse practitioners for free. This encourages employees to go get things checked out before they become huge problems. My mom went to see this wonderful nurse practitioner, and the woman decided to spend an HOUR checking my mom over from head to toe. Who has EVER gotten to spend so much time in one sitting with a medical professional? This wonderful angel must have said her prayers and been listening to the Spirit that day, because, even though she really couldn’t feel anything, she kept coming back to my mom’s breast and saying “I think we need to check… there may be… let’s get more information.”
Now, Mom gets her mammograms religiously. If there was something there, she would know since she had just had one, right?
Mom listened and went for a biopsy. Sure enough, there was a small but invasive cancer growing in her left breast. The doctors gave her a couple of options and she and Dad researched and prayed. They decided to go with a double mastectomy with no reconstruction. Mom didn’t want to wonder and worry every year at a follow-up mammogram if it was hiding cancer like this one had. She made the choice that would continue to keep her the healthiest (and we all know that mental and emotional wellness is highly connected to how we feel physically). Reconstruction is a long, hard process, and she’s not interested in putting anything else in her body.
Even though Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, it was a miracle for us. The cancer was small and had not begun to spread into the lymph nodes. She does not have to deal with chemotherapy, for which we are all extremely grateful. Because of her body makeup, she does not even have to take hormone suppressants.
In the last month, two of my mother’s friends have also been diagnosed with breast cancer. Each one is choosing a different route of surgery that will make her feel the most comfortable with her body.
In doing the genetic testing, my mom had to gather information on all of her family members that had had not only breast cancer, but other types of cancer.
It is a long list, including ones who have died of breast cancer.
So what does this mean now? Mom believes it is her crusade to talk to people about knowing their bodies and knowing their family histories, getting checked, and taking care of themselves. She believes she was spared the worst of it so that she would have the strength to keep going and talk to others. Look what happens when it is detected early! Three weeks after her double mastectomy, Mom and I attended a fitness convention. She couldn’t work as hard as I could and had to remind herself to sit out of some classes and just observe, but she was free. It took a few weeks from her, but now she is free.
Know your body. Listen to it.
Last year, a dear friend of our family went into the hospital, rapidly, rapidly went downhill, and died a few days later. She had cancer raging throughout the majority of her body. She had her reasons for not going to the doctor, like many of us do. How many thousand times have I refused to go to the doctor because of all the ones I saw on my 10+ year journey to diagnosis and gluten freedom that never helped me?
But now I know my history. I have a great-aunt that died of breast cancer, my mom had a cousin that was diagnosed last year, I had a great-uncle that died of breast cancer, and a cousin that was diagnosed at the age of 34. 34!?! I’m nipping on those heels.
For more than five years, my mom and my younger brother have volunteered for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day. This year, she will be there as a survivor and the cause means more to us than ever before. We need earlier detection, and we need people to be aware of themselves.
This means so much more than breast cancer. Other types of cancers and hereditary disorders/diseases are things we need to know about. But we also need to pay attention to what our bodies are saying to us. As Celiacs, many of us had long, difficult journeys to diagnosis. But we KNEW something was wrong even when doctors told us “it is all in your head; eat more fiber” or whatever stupid line we were given.
Know your body. Listen to it.
In Yoga, I teach that we must control our breathing and focus on what our bodies are saying to us. How many of us take the time to do that each day, or even once a month?
Being proactive, Mom will have a full body PET scan tomorrow in order to check for any other cancers that might be hiding in her body.
Know your body. Listen to it. It may be trying to tell you something extremely important.
If you would like to help support the efforts of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day, you are welcome to help my brother raise money in the fight against breast cancer.
If you are in Dallas, my brother is helping host a free event to raise money. There will be casino tables, raffles, and fun galore. You can check it out on facebook.