Today marks the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This month has a special place in my heart because when I was 16 years old, my 39 year old mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. My first thought when I heard the news was,
“There must be a mistake. She’s young! They don’t even recommend getting your first mammogram until you are 40years old. She is a healthy weight, exercises, eats right, doesn’t drink/smoke, and has no family history of breast cancer!”
But yet, there she was, receiving chemotherapy and radiation before we could even throw her an Over the Hill themed bash. Luckily her cancer was caught early (stage 1) and she handled treatment like a champ. This January she will be cancer free for 12 years.
There is no way to sugar coat it: Cancer sucks. It is scary, unfair, cruel, and painful. But we all know that. So this post is going to be a little untraditional and focus on the good things that came from my mother’s breast cancer diagnosis:
- My mother became my best friend. We had always been close, but while she was going through treatments, she became vulnerable in a way I had never seen her. She trusted me with her fears and looked to me for support and vice versa. Somewhere between me skipping school to tell her jokes during chemotherapy and making sure she got the best flavor popsicles (keep moving, yellow, ain’t nobody got time for that), we went from being mother-daughter to best friends.
- I learned to be appreciative and not take her for granted. Not only did I start to notice all of the things she did for me like cooking dinner every night, doing my laundry and buying me anything my teenage heart could want, but I realized that life is short and loved every minute we had together. As a teenager it is easy to blow off your parents to be with your friends and I am thankful that I learned how dumb that is at such a young age.
- If you can’t laugh at cancer, what the hell is the point? My family has always had a habit of using laughter to get through sucky situations. Breast cancer was no different. While this might not work for everyone and I’m sure we raised a few eyebrows with our jokes, it got us laughing and laughing is always better than not laughing. Plus, if you can learn to laugh in cancer’s face, you can laugh at anything.
- I saw true love in my mother and father. People don’t often talk about the spouse of cancer patients but they go through their own version of hell. My father stood by watching my mother fight, wishing he could help with the battle, but knowing there was little he could do. My father was at every doctor’s appointment, treatment, test, you name it. He was the perfect picture of ‘in sickness and in health’ and showed me what really matters when choosing a life partner.
- We learned to never lose hope. It would have been easy to be angry about what was happening (and we were at times) but we learned that being angry does jack shit (pardon the language). There was no rational reason that this was happening to someone that took such great care of themselves so we all chose to focus on things within our control instead and had faith that this too shall pass. This is one of the greatest lessons I have ever learned.
- And last, but certainly not least, we learned that my mother is a total badass. I have whined more about a papercut than she has about cancer. She showed us that we are all capable of so much more than we think we are.
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Runner Girl Eats will be going pink. Throughout the month I will be posting about breast cancer prevention, treatment, charities, etc in addition to my normal ramblings (don’t worry, there will still be plenty of bad puns and blurry iPhone pics of my dinners). This is obviously a topic/cause that is very important to me and I hope that you take some time this month to learn more about the disease that will affect one in eight women.
If you decide to do any pink related posts please feel free to share them! I would love to help spread the pink