Friday, October 22, 2010

My first guest

I have recently connected with a great group of bloggers blogging under "special circumstances."  We have all walked paths a little ways from normal and are blogging to tell about it.  One of these amazing women has survived breast cancer and as I read her story of survival I think of the grandmother than my children will never meet.

Mark's mother passed away from breast cancer at the age of 39, leaving behind three young children.  I cannot imagine what this must have been like for her or for her children.  I am eternally grateful that she raised such an amazing son and in honor of her I have asked my new friend and breast cancer survivor, Ginny from Lemon Drop Pie, to write a guest post for me today.  I am in awe of Ginny's strength and can't tell you how much I appreciate her willingness to share her story.
Thank you, Jessica, for asking me to write this post about being a mother and surviving breast cancer. The month of October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and this is my story about breast cancer.
Fourteen years ago, as I was wheeled into recovery, my parents were waiting for me. They sat down next to me, one on each side. The surgeon followed me, and had to deliver the news. While I don't remember the exact words he used, he told my parents something I had already heard in the operating room. I had been awake during my entire lumpectomy, as the surgeon had used local anesthesia. “The pathologist believes the lump we removed is malignant.”
My mom threw her head down in my lap and cried, “No! Not you, too!” She just sobbed.
Later, Mom told me she was embarrassed in the way she had reacted. But I understood. She didn't want her daughter to be diagnosed with the same disease she had been diagnosed with when she was 40 years old. When Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, I had just graduated from eighth grade. I was the oldest child of four. We knew that Mom was sick, but I don't think the word “cancer” resonated with us like it does now. We went to stay with friends of the family for a few days, and my sister and I were able to help take care of my younger two siblings. I don't think I realized what a scary situation my parents were thrust into.
And then, I was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 27. What a shock! This time, I knew what “cancer” meant. I was single and childless. I should have had my whole life before me, but now? What now?
I made every decision as best I could. I considered how I could keep my body healthy so that in the future, I might still be able to have children and breastfeed them. Chemotherapy can push pre-menopausal women into menopause early, so there was a chance that I might never be able to have children.
Fortunately, I didn't encounter menopause after chemotherapy, and I did meet the love of my life a few years later. We have two young daughters. I have struggled with guilty thoughts about having children. What if my cancer is genetic? What if my two girls get breast cancer someday? When I look at my two beautiful girls, those fears just float away. I never, ever regret my decision to have children.
Our family's genetic testing shows that my cancer may not be genetic...not a gene mutation that we know about, anyway. I'm just praying that we soon learn how to prevent women from getting breast cancer in the first place. Have you heard of www.armyofwomen.org? This group needs you to join, (it's free!) and when you do, you could help them find the cause of breast cancer.
Now that I've reached 40, I realize that no matter what age you are when you are diagnosed with breast cancer, you are too young. 27, 40, or 67...the age of my mom when she lost her fight with breast cancer. Please consider joining the Love/Avon Army of Women today!

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