17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Monday, October 23, 2006

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

From Health Central.com

U.S. Breast Cancer Facts
• Over 215,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year.
• One person is diagnosed with breast cancer every 3 minutes.
• One person dies of breast cancer every 14 minutes.
• People over the age of 50 account for 75% of breast cancer cases.

Unfortunately there is also that 25% of women that are under age 50. Samantha [name changed] married my oldest cousin back when I was in high school. She was superfit, superbeautiful, supertan, superblonde, and had super blue eyes. She was a former BYU cheerleader. She exercised all the time. She was very stylish. She was also one of the most genuinely nice women I have ever met. I was glad that she became part of the family because I didn’t fit in with my family, and I felt I related to her. She liked to talk about clothes, makeup, pop culture….stuff that I was interested in. She also took time to talk to me, and showed interest in me, even though I was almost 10 years younger.

She and her husband ended up living in the same town that I grew up in, so we would see them every once in a while. She even became a 3rd grade teacher at my former elementary school. She had two kids: a boy and a girl; both spitting images of their Dad. I remember that she was debating about having a third baby, after her daughter had reached toddler-hood.

In August of 2002 I heard the news that she was pregnant, and I was happy for her. She found the lump a short time later. 34 weeks pregnant, and there it was. They did the tests. We prayed and held our breath. Positive. Stage 4. She had the mastectomy. They gave her 6 weeks to recover. They induced the little baby girl. She was born, a spitting image of her mother, and then her mom was wheeled to her first chemotherapy treatment.
In May of 2003 I walked for her in the Revlon Run/Walk for women. I raised $2000.00. $1500 dollars more than my goal.

She fought. Family and friends helped in droves. One day the neighbors showed up at their doorstep with news that they were coming to finish their basement so that her sister (who was living with them to help out) could have a room of her own. She shaved her head. She exercised and tanned and mothered in between chemo treatments.
August 16, 2003…A little less than one year after the baby was born, Samantha went upstairs to take a nap, and never woke up. The family had a birthday party and a funeral all in the same week. As I was dealing with the grief of this event, I imagined the beginning of her story as a novel:
“Three days after my funeral, my daughter celebrated her first birthday. The pregnancy was her beginning and my end.”

The good news is that it isn’t really the end. She will live on, and she will be reunited with her family again one day. And that is the one and only bright side of breast cancer. Please get your mammogram today.


  • My mother in law.
    My aunt.
    One of my best friends.

    Thank you for helping to remind people that it's not numbers, it's real people that are diagnosed every day
    posted by Blogger Mo Mommy at 10/23/2006 06:37:00 PM  

  • I am 31 and everytime I hear about breast cancer and self exams I feel funny, like I don't need to be doing that just yet. No need for a mamogram yet...right?

    Thanks for the reminder - I really need to start taking better care of myself.
    posted by Blogger chloe at 10/23/2006 09:34:00 PM  

  • Thanks for posting this. I know it must have been difficult to write. It brought tears to my eyes. One of my very good friends is fighting stage 4 breast cancer right now, she is 34 with 2 children under the age of 6. Thank you for reminding people that this is not a cancer that just older women can get, but something we all need to be on the lookout for.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 10/24/2006 09:00:00 AM  

  • Me too--diagnosed last year at age 32, stage IIIC. I don't have a family history (3/4 of women diagnosed don't). Mastectomy in December, chemo January-April, radiation May-June, and reconstruction next month on the anniversary of the biopsy.

    As far as I know all is well now. I have had aggressive treatment and hope everything stays that way. Now I just have to avoid driving myself nuts every time I have some minor complaint, since the symptoms of mets can start out as a pretty minor thing, like pain or loss of appetite.

    I'm married to a great guy and have three little kids, now ages 8, 6, and 4. We got through with tons of help from my mom (came to stay with us after each chemo and surgery, and took my kids for a month during radiation) and from the ward.

    Chloe is right--mammograms aren't recommended for those in their 30s. Breast cancer does happen to people in their 30s (I think the numbers are 1 in 221 or so get breast cancer before 40), but mammograms don't work well on premenopausal women. Researchers are trying to develop a way that will diagnose cancer in younger women, but nothing has officially come on the scene yet.

    Another nasty thing about breast cancer in young women is that it is usually a more aggressive disease. You would think that a young, otherwise healthy person would have an easier time fighting cancer. But the cancer is more youthful and aggressive too. As I understand it the survival rate of young adults hasn't improved since 1975 (http://www.planetcancer.org/html/real_world_advice.php?cat_Id=9&p_Id=144).

    For more info about young breast cancer, see the Young Survival Coalition at http://www.youngsurvival.org/young-women-and-bc/.

    In my case, I had had a clinical breast exam just 4 months before I was diagnosed, and I did a self exam about a month before finding the lump. Yet by the time of the biopsy the lump was about the size of a golf ball. That sucker just came out of nowhere.

    Thanks for your post.
    posted by Anonymous Sara R at 10/24/2006 09:00:00 PM  

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