October is breast cancer awareness month. This never really struck me, even though I know how serious of a condition breast cancer is. After all, it is a cancer that targets women over men, although men can also develop breast cancer. Yeah, I always did the walks and I raise money for breast cancer research, but I never really took it personally. I didn’t know anyone who had breast cancer or was even affected by someone else having breast cancer. Those that I knew about who had breast cancer in their family were so distant from me that I had a hard time relating to them.
All that changed this year. My grandmother was diagnosed as having breast cancer about a month ago. They preformed a biopsy and determined that it is a very aggressive type of cancer that could quickly kill her if it was not immediately treated. This presented a serious dilemma for my grandmother. After all, it is not as though she is a young woman any more. Her husband, my grandfather, passed some years before and she is living in a home alone. She does not want to burden anyone with her care, and she does not feel comfortable having this surgery. However, she is healthy and if the treatment would give her a good chance at living longer and being healthier, then why not at least make an attempt to have the cancer removed.
I was there every step of the first surgery when they went in and took out the mass, some tissue around it and a lymph node. Luckily, there were no complications and the lymph node showed a negative to any cancer in it. This hopefully means that the cancer has not spread beyond the breast. However, the tissue around the mass showed signs of “disease” and they need to go back in and remove more tissue. That surgery is scheduled for Tuesday, October 12th.
We are hoping for a positive result from this surgery and continued success in treating her cancer. I am reflecting on how, after all this time of supporting breast cancer research without a single victim being known, I now know someone who has been a fixture in my life for as long as I can remember being a victim. To all those women, and men, who have experienced breast cancer, I support and salute you. I wish all those who have lost their loved ones condolences and a hug to yet you know, that I now understand.
As I walk through this month with my pink ribbon on my shoulder, I will constantly think of those who have not been as lucky as me and my grandmother. I will continue to support the mammogram testing of women throughout their life time and I will continue to do my self examinations. Cancer is indiscriminate, and the only true defense against it is constant vigilance.