2011 Susan G. Komen Global Race for the Cure® Survivor of the YearWords from her daughter, Heather Rudderow:
My first memories in life are long hallways, smiling ladies and a playground. No, this was not day care or preschool, it was Fox Chase Cancer Center. When I was 2, my mother was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. She was 31. As a mother of 3 under the age of 5, she was devastated when she heard the words from her doctor, “you have 6 months to a year.” My mother said she cried only once over her diagnosis and never cried again. I once asked my mother what got her through this difficult time, and she said, “a positive outlook and you children – I wanted to see you graduate from preschool.”My mother opted for a very new and risky procedure at the time – a double mastectomy. To this day, she believes this decision saved her life.
My mother said she felt very alone when she had breast cancer. Not only were there no large support organizations such as Susan G. Komen, but my mother never saw ladies her age with breast cancer. She could have become withdrawn, but what is so amazing about my mother was that while she was dealing with her own illness and adapting to being breast-less in between surgeries, she was supporting other ladies with breast cancer. My mother gave presentations and led discussions on reconstructive surgery to familiarize ladies that were looking into their options. To this day, she is active in breast cancer walks because she feels that it’s important to speak with and support other women, and especially provide hope for younger survivors. This year is a very special year for my mother – it’s her 30th anniversary, not of her death sentence, but the 30th anniversary of her survival and strength. Not only will her children be joining her on this walk on June 4th, but her three grandchildren who call her “Mimi” will be walking alongside.I am now 31 – the age my mother was when she received the worst news of her life. I can’t imagine life without my mother. I know that her children got her through, but my mother never gives herself credit. She is the most selfless, strongest woman I know. Many people tend to focus on the negative of cancer. Not my mother. She stayed focused on her family and supporting other survivors, thus being an inspiration for all women with this horrible disease.My mother’s only hope was to see her children graduate from preschool. She not only has seen her children graduate college, but will see her children’s children graduate college and grow up into wonderful adults.She is an amazing woman, fighter and survivor, and an inspiration to all women, showing that there truly is hope.