For this month I have teamed up with that amazing group of women I talk to most of the day everyday to join in a Breast Cancer Awareness month campaign. Each day one of us writes a “How do you PINK?” post. You can find our schedule below. You can help by stopping by everyone’s blog and joining on our MckLinky with your “How do you PINK?” post.
Unlike Michele from Scraps of My Geek Life, I have had more than my fair share of experience of women who are very close to me battling breast cancer. I have enough of these experiences that I am going to write about a different woman each Thursday and let these amazing women serve as examples as to why YOU need to do monthly self breast exams and if it is recommended you have a mammogram, history of breast cancer in your family or not. Each of these women were and in one case are loved dearly by their families – the battle for all of them and the loss of two of them was very hard for each family. I walk for all of these women every May in our local breast cancer walk, and one day I will run the 5K for them – after training. So please use the example of these women to help you realize that you have to take care of yourself and that includes all the necessary exams for breast cancer!
The first woman I want to talk about is my Grandma – my mom’s mom. She was an absolutely amazing woman! Do any of you remember The Golden Girls? If you do my Grandma and Rose would have been great friends – except for the St. Olaf stories those two were so much alike! My mom was an only child but my Grandma had this best friend and she had six kids – personally I think each had seven kids! My Grandma worked at the school when my mom was younger and when my mom was older she stayed at home, I think I cannot remember.
(me, my grandma, and my sister)
I was born during my mom’s senior year of high school and my Grandma watched me while my mom was in school! She made my mom and I matching outfits for my mom’s high school graduation! So many of the clothes I remember growing up were made by my Grandma. As I grew up I remember her teaching me to sew, crochet, knit, cook and anything else. She would listen to Christmas music with me in the middle of July.
I don’t remember how old I was when she got breast cancer. I remember my sister was in kindergarten and my sister is 6 years younger than me. I remember no one told me what was going on when she had her mastectomy because they expected I would not understand, but no one expected me to walk in my Grandma’s hospital room when she was helping her roommate and all of the wires etc were showing and someone would have to explain to me. Instead of backing off at that point, I remember going to at least one of my Grandma’s doctors with her – my Grandpa told me to ask what I wanted, you cannot get answers if you don’t ask the questions. So I asked, to my knowledge my grandpa always answered my questions honestly when they had to do with my Grandma’s cancer.
I remember the months of radiation. The lines all over my Grandma’s body so they knew where to shoot that radiation. Then the months of chemo, and then the tests and starting all over again. Grandma lost her hair, so she wore a wig (a bad wig but no one would tell her that) or a turban thing. After countless radiation treatments, chemo treatments, blood transfusions and so much more, my Grandma’s leg broke when she was getting into bed. At the time I didn’t realize what that meant, I didn’t realize that cancer could spread to bones and that at that point there was nothing they could do other than just try to keep it under control. But they did surgery and fixed the bone, making one of my Grandma’s legs 1.5 inches shorter than the other.
(me, grandpa, grandma, my sister – I have no idea where my brother was for these pictures I could not find a picture of all three of us and my grandma)
I should have known that would start the downhill slide, but I didn’t I thought she was fixed. It never crossed my mind to ask her to write things down or make certain things for me even though I was at times helping to be her caregiver. My Grandpa learned to cook (yep Grandma always did it). And she keep trying to beat this thing we call cancer. A few years would pass, my Grandma never complained that I could hear (I have heard she never complained), she never stopped praising God and she never stopped loving any of us.
Grandma died on February 11, 1991 – she fought so hard against the breast cancer that would in the end take her. She missed my sweet 16, my wedding, and when we brought the kids home. I almost could not do the Breast Cancer walk this year – it was too much I had my kids but not my Grandma. I am crying now thinking about what not only my children but my brother’s kids and my sister’s future kids are going to miss out on.
But there is something I am sure my Grandma would not want to see happen – anyone else suffer needlessly from this nasty disease. She would beg you to be checked and make sure that you are healthy. Even after all she had to endure, I think she would also tell you to fight the good fight should you find yourself having to fight this nasty disease. Medicine has come so far since my Grandma fought her battle. So please for me and my Grandma get checked.