Thursday, October 07, 2010

Surviving breast cancer: 2 stories

So it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and there are all kinds of campaigns and gimmicks going on. People will stop at nothing these days, it seems, to make other people aware.

Don't worry - I'm not about to tell you where I like my handbag. (I didn't reveal what colour my bra was last year, either.) As a friend of mine puts it, "I don't think this is a 'powerful' way of trying to help support our cause for breast cancer. I think we can come up with other creative ways than trying to be provocative."

My grandmother and my mom

So instead, I'm going to tell you about my grandmother, who was diagnosed with breast cancer after her doctor suggested she have a mammogram - though she was over sixty, she had never had one. She ended up having a partial mastectomy and radiation therapy, and lived for six more years. That's six more Christmases, six more birthdays, six more wedding anniversaries that she celebrated with us before she succumbed to leukaemia in 2002.

And I'm going to tell you about a good friend of mine, a young woman who also had a mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer this spring. A couple of weeks ago, I watched her dance the flamenco on another friend's birthday, orange skirts twirling and slender arms whirling above her head. She is strong, beautiful, happy, and completely recovered.

My grandmother and my friend had many things in common: their dignity, their resilience, their courage, their serenity in the face of suffering. Also, they both had mammograms, and they both had an incredible support network of friends and family. And they never gave up hope.

That's my little bit for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Maybe these stories will give someone out there a bit of hope and inspiration.

If you are over forty or have a history of breast cancer in your family, schedule your mammogram today. And check out the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute for more helpful information.


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