Back in the days no one talked about Cancer, for it was a disease people died from. I grew up in a simple home, with my two older sisters and four brothers. We didn't have much, but we didn't need much. The first time I heard the word “cancer” was when I had to take my mother for a doctor’s visit.
When the doctor came in, she told my mom she had cancer. I was shocked and nervous, but my mom said, “Okay, what do I need to do?” After her diagnosis, she was given treatment and did fairly well. I thought to myself, “Wow, this isn’t so bad.”
Then, in the early part of 2004, my older sister, who was in between jobs and living in California, discovered a lump. Due to the fact she had no insurance, she waited until she was hired full time and could receive insurance. When she was able to go to the doctor, her worst fear came true. She had stage 4 breast cancer. She went though treatments and surgeries and did not want to tell us until she had good news. Then, when she knew her time was limited, she called me and told the news. I don't know why she called me first – I am the biggest crybaby when it comes to bad news.
Afterwards, I gathered my family and told them what was going on with our sister. Then, my mom, my other sister and I flew to California to give support to my oldest sister. My sister had always had a beauty and a smile that would just captivate you. Even when we saw her for the first time after all her ordeals, she still had maintained her beauty and captivating smile. We sat with her and she relayed all the information to us from the doctors. She was so sure she could beat this. When we visited with her, she asked my mom, younger sister and me to get checked for breast cancer, since early detection is the key to fighting this disease.
During the time of our visit, I noticed that there was an event going on with thousands of people walking in a crowd wearing pink shirts. It was the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure®. It inspired me to do something like that when came home to Texas, since Susan G. Komen is about two sisters and one dream. When I got back from visiting my sister, I did two things: first, I made an appointment for an examination and second, I started raising money to find a cure. My sister’s advice paid off. When I had my breast exam, I found out I had stage 1 breast cancer. I eventually learned first-hand what my sister had to go through all alone. I gained strength from my sister’s and my family’s calls each week. Their support helped guide me along with my treatments and surgeries. My sister would always reassure me it would be alright. Thankfully, she was right. I have been cancer free since 2004.
However, just when we thought the worst was over, my mom died of liver cancer in 2008, and shortly after that, my sister’s cancer returned. She passed away in September 2009. A lot of people tell me I am their hero, but the real heroes are the ones we have lost to this terrible disease. I am just a soldier in this battle that we fight in hopes of one day finding a cure.
Facts for Life: What is Breast Cancer
Breast Cancer 101
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"I'll do whatever it takes to keep fighting." - Kathleen