Breast cancer is something that has affected many of us, some in more personal ways to others, but regardless, just about everyone knows someone who has either suffered from it, lost someone to it, or even had a scare.
Myself, I lost my mother to breast cancer. In less than 18 months she went from being perfectly healthy, to first having a lump removed, then the entire breast, then finally passing while on the waiting list to have the second breast removed.
She led a busy life raising two kids mostly on her own, teaching, being the first one to volunteer for whatever task needed completing at whatever activity us kids were doing, getting up at 5am to take me to training, work all day, drive in to Auckland hospital for her radiotherapy, drive back out west to take me training again, then get home and cook dinner. IF she didn’t have a meeting to go to about something or other first.
From there, radiotherapy and chemo took a massive toll on her. Cancer is an awful way to die. She lost about 40% of her bodyweight. She could barely eat, yet she continued to run around after us. In the month or two before she died, she was practically bedridden. She was utterly heartbroken that her 13 year old son had to empty her bedpan for her. And yet, throughout all this, she kept a positive attitude. She refused to believe she was going to die, to the point of refusing to sign her updated will. A week before she died she contacted her boss to say that whilst she was too ill to return to work for Term 1, she was confident that she would in Term 2.
She died suddenly in bed at home at 7am on Jan 14th 1993. She was 42. A few years later, her sister also was taken by breast cancer at a similar age. Make no mistake, it is a terrible, drawn out way to die.
One of the main goals of mine is to increase awareness amongst all my female friends and acquaintances of the importance of regular self examinations. Early detection and diagnosis gives the best chance of total recovery in the worst case scenario of a malignant tumour. If my mum had discovered her lump even 6 months earlier, she most likely would still be here today, let alone had it happened today with improved medical treatments.
It’s not something that is hard to do and takes no time at all. I urge you to please, just do it. Those of you close to me know how I’m still affected by her death even today. Barely a day goes by where I don’t miss her.
Donate to the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation here.