I’ll never forget that phone call. The call that came in last year that would change the way I viewed mammograms for the rest of my life. Huge couple of sentences right? Hoping to grab your attention straight away so please listen as I tell you the story and I want you ask yourself how important is my health right now?
One of my best friends had called me like she always does but her voice sounded funny. She started with a small talk and we chatted for a bit about nothing really just the usual mommy chitchat. And then she told me something that would change everything. She said 4 words “I have breast cancer.” The only response I could muster was “No!!!”
She very quickly got the story out. I think she needed to tell me fast before she got emotional. Her younger sister had had breast cancer the year before and so she had been vigilant about self exams and had found a lump. This has been a couple of days before the phone call. Just a couple of days had changed everything. She quickly made an appointment and it had been confirmed that in fact she did have the first stage of breast cancer. It was early but it was there nonetheless and she was scared.
Being a type A friend like myself she’s already made a plan. She was going to start chemotherapy right away and she was already planning a double mastectomy. As I walked to the bus stop to pick up my kids trying hard to control my emotions I just kept repeating that we would fight it together and that we would win.
As this year has gone by I have watched her fight like no one else. This is a strong beautiful person. She is younger than me and so is her sister and yet they have been in for bigger fights than I will ever know. We have gone through the emotions of what it means to shave your head because you’re losing your hair. We’ve talked while she’s in chemotherapy and while she’s been nauseous as the result of her treatments. We talked after the mastectomy about what she was going through. This beautiful mother of three and wife has battled like no one else has battled. She has so much to live for.
The good news is, the best possible news is, that both my dear friend and her younger sister have beaten the cancer! Let that sit for a minute-they have both beaten it. Not a day goes by that I’m not grateful to be saying this. I couldn’t even go to a place where I could even think about what it would be like to lose her. I could only continue to push her to fight on and now my beautiful friend has scheduled her reconstructive surgery and hopefully will be able to put cancer behind her permanently.
I have talked to you before about the importance of having mammograms, how they can save your life. I have also mentioned how important it is to do self exams, they can also save your life. My friend has now lived through the proof of this. She has lived and will live on to be one of the most precious gifts in my life and many other people’s as well. She will continue to be a daughter, a wife a mother and a dear friend to those that love her so much.
The thing about cancer is it doesn’t select, it is not selective on who it chooses. it can chose anyone! My friend and her sister could find no family history of breast cancer before the two of them. There was just no history before the two of them but yet it still happened. Cancer still chose them both and we don’t know why. It can choose a non-smoking young mother of three. Someone who has never done anything but try to be a light in this world and yet is still chosen.
During this pandemic many of us have scaled back our doctor and dentist visits in order to remain as safe as possible. We are going to less places and maybe see some of these visits as unnecessary right now. Many mothers don’t have a moment to themselves-I would relate to that heavily! I’m not sure I’ve had many moments to myself since March. How on earth can we make the time to go to a check up?
Well ladies this is my official PSA that you have to! You have to keep up with taking care of you so that you can take care of everybody else. You have to stay proactive in your health for the sake of yourself and your family. I don’t even wanna think about what would’ve happened if my friend would’ve said I’ll see to this later instead of I’m going to see to this now.
So in honor of her I put on my mask. I had my temperature checked upon entering and socially distanced in the waiting room. I robed up and I saw Sam. Sam has done each and every one of my mammograms in Florida. For some reason every time I schedule my appointment she’s the one that does it. She probably knows my breasts better than some lucky fellows who had the honor in college lol.
I’ve come to see Sam as a friend and we’ve talked about some pretty heavy stuff. I told her about my friend and the year that she had and she said it gave her goosebumps. The reason that Sam got into this work is because she lost two members of her family to breast cancer. She believes in early detection and how it can save lives. And so today Sam and I have decided to once again reach out to other women to ask all of you to please continue all of your appointments! Don’t wait!! We are talking about less than a half an hour of your time to take care of you!
You are someone’s blessing ladies. I venture to guess you each are many people’s. To them you mean the world so even if you don’t want to make the time for yourself make it for them. Make the time for the people that love you so they can keep loving you!
There are a million ways I could say how much I love my friend. We have leaned on each other many times. We have laughed together and we have shared our motherhood together almost since the beginning. I don’t know how to be a mother without having her on my squad. I have been wanting to find a way to say how proud I am of her so what better way to do it then just say it publicly right now?
So my friend whose name I am keeping private but who knows that I’m doing this and supports it as she has always supported everything that I do I say this. I have watched you go through something and come out of it even better than you began. Your faith is a strong as ever, your desire to be make the world a better place is even stronger. You are a better mother and a better wife if that was even possible because you were pretty spectacular to begin with. And as a friend there are no words to accurately describe how amazing you are. There are also no words to describe how big your heart is. I watched in awe your strength and your courage and your determination. I am amazed at how you want to share your story in hopes that other women will take care of themselves. When I told you I wanted to do this you said of course do it.
Most of all-I watched you win! I believed with everything that I have that you would win! I thank God every day that you did! You are a blessing and I love you so much!
With love and supreme appreciation,