Monday I had an appointment for my yearly mammogram. Nothing like making an appointment to get your boobs squeezed between two pieces of glass. Squeezed flat diagonally and then horizontally. I wonder sometimes if men needed a yearly penisgram or testicalgram if they would participate? I guess if their life might depend on it they would.
Breast cancer runs in my mom’s family. Two of her sisters battled breast cancer. Because of her sister’s breast cancer she was involved in the Tamoxifen studies. It was a blind study so she never knew for sure if she was getting the drug or a placebo. But she felt like she was getting the drug because she had some of the side effects.
My Aunt Margie lost her life after a seven year battle with breast cancer. I can’t remember her exact age when she passed away, but she was in her 50’s. She still had a lot of living left in her. She missed out on so much because of this stealer of life, breast cancer. My other aunt, Agnes has battled cancer at least four times that I can recall. Her latest bout was several months ago when it showed up in her lungs. I didn’t know breast cancer cells could show up in your lungs. During her battles she has had a double mastectomy and I don’t know how many lymph nodes removed.
Both of them went thru I don’t know how many surgeries, treatments of chemo and radiation. Their hair fell out, they were sick, they both knew death was looming over them. I remember once when my Aunt Margie’s hair came back in she said “At least it came back in curly, maybe I won’t have to perm it any more.” This was her usual upbeat personality. I miss her to this day. Sometimes I pass someone in a store or somewhere and they remind me of her and I want to stop them.
That’s what makes these two women so special to me. They are inspirations. They were fighters. While waging their battles against breast cancer they still focused on their families. For both of them this wasn’t a one time battle and it was over, your won or lost. One fought with her whole being for a long time and still lost her life.
One still battles to this day. She sparkles and smiles. There is a twinkle in her eye. But if you look deep enough in her eyes you can see still a little fear there. It has to be. During her last fight when the breast cancer cells showed up in her lungs and her blood, she had been going to the MD Anderson Center in Houston for checkups. She was able to take chemo pills. But this was still a fierce battle she waged. She won that battle. The cancer cells completely disappeared from her body. The doctor couldn’t tell her why, but she will tell you how it happened.
Anyone who has battled or is in the midst of their battle with cancer is a hero and an inspiration to me. Breast cancer did not rob my aunts of who they were. I leave you with this poem that was hanging in the dressing room at the radiologist office. The author is unknown.
It cannot shatter hope
It cannot corrode faith
It cannot destroy peace
It cannot kill friendship
It cannot suppress memories
It cannot silence courage
It cannot invade the soul
It cannot steal eternal life
It cannot conquer the spirit
Cancer is so limited