Breast Cancer is a heartless bitch. This morning at work we were given the news that one of our coworkers will most likely not be returning to work as she again goes to battle with this disease. This is the second woman who has left this workplace to spend more time with her family as she fights since I started only 20 months ago. It’s not right. It’s not fair.
Last year, as I prepared for the Breast Cancer 3-Day both of these fine ladies shared their stories with me. One had battled breast cancer before and knew in her gut that it had relapsed. She had to push her doctors to get additional testing. By the time they discovered the new lump the cancer had had metastasized and spread to her liver, lungs and bones. I watched her fight tooth and nail on a daily basis. I cried with the news that the cancer was gone after several months of radical and exhausting treatment only to cry again when she found that it was back, only a few short months later.
The other woman – the one for whom the announcement was made today – is so young. She was first diagnosed after the birth of her first child in her early twenties. She fought hard and triumphed. She had a second child and shortly thereafter found a lump. But all her doctors diagnosed that lump as hardened tissue due to breastfeeding and her recent pregnancy. Besides, she was still in her late twenties – lightening doesn’t strike twice! But it did and by the time they figured it out the cancer had spread to her bones. She’s been fighting an epic battle ever since and is only a few years older then me. With two young girls to take care of she has been in treatment – trying to buy every single day she could – for over three years. For her there was no hope of a cure, just an endless fight to keep the cancer from spreading. This morning we learned that her cancer metastasized and spread to her liver and lungs and her doctors recommended she seek Hospice care. Not yet ready to give up and leave her family she instead has opted to undergo an extremely aggressive schedule of care.
Last year, as they both independently shared their stories with me they kept saying get checked early and often. And if there is a family history run, do not walk, to your doctor’s office and get a mammogram, and while you are there go ahead and schedule your appointment for next year. Ask your doctor for an MRI and then get tested for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation. And guys aren’t immune – they also need to do these things if there is a family history of breast cancer.
Someone dies of breast cancer every 68 seconds.
One in seven women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer.
This year 182,460 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the U.S. alone. 1,910 men will also be diagnosed.
Because while we may have fun dressing this disease up in pink boas while chanting “save the boobies!” the cold truth is that breast cancer is not a laughing matter. And those two precious little girls should not have to see their mommy go through this.