She was my doctor’s nurse. Her smile was infectious and her passion for life powerful. When she wasn’t working she was mom to three children, ranging from middle school to newly married. Life was great until a triple negative breast cancer diagnosis threatened to steal her joy. Little did the cancer know, it was dealing with the wrong person. Her fighter spirit helped her sail through a double mastectomy, chemo, and radiation while her faith kept her focused on the One who shines HOPE through every situation faced. "K" won.
Prior to having children I started a new position in the newborn nursery. She helped train me into my role. It was in that same nursery that she received a phone call that she had breast cancer. Life changed. Throughout her journey with surgery, chemo, and radiation she became a community voice about the difficulties in facing cancer head on and the lessons she learned in the process. "M" won.
Despite having no risk factors, my friend went for an ultrasound only to discover that a double mastectomy would follow in short order. The aggressive treatment would rid her of the particulars her body faced and free her of chemo and radiation needs as well as future risks. At home, her husband and three children (in middle and high school) helped her through the slow recovery. Through it all, her spirit wasn’t broken and she drew closer to friends in new ways. "Y" won.
Recently, my 34 year old neighbor was doing a self exam and found a lump. This breast cancer diagnosis hit me the hardest. Not only was it a reminder that the “very young” are not exempt from this form of cancer, but it was another young mother with young children facing an unknown future. After her double mastectomy, she and her husband walked hand in hand through the neighborhood helping this beautiful woman (who previously ran, biked, and walked miles each week) regain strength and health. As her hair fell out, she was not deterred. She’d put on her hat and walk. And, this past Wednesday, she finished her final chemo treatment with her husband and two small cheering her on. "A" won.
These are snapshots of just a few women I know who have valiantly fought breast cancer. However, one in eight women in our country will be impacted by this diagnosis.
October is breast cancer awareness month and, in honor of it, I thought it fitting to take a moment to share one of the most powerful sketches I’ve ever seen on the fight by Women of Faith’s Nicole Johnson. For those of you who have lost loved ones to this illness, my heart goes out to you. And, for those who are fighting or know someone who is, may you be empowered by the video.
My prayers are with you all.