Monday, October 5, 2009

Sisters and Mothers and Daughters...

A while back I said I would talk about why breast cancer awareness is so important to me. Two of the reasons are pictured here. One is no longer on this plane. One is sitting here writing this.

On the left is my Aunt Myrt (short for Myrtle, but we have always called her Myrt). She is my Mom's little sister. That's Mom - the party girl on the right. I took this photo last year at my Mom's 90th birthday party. Which explains the tiara. But if you ask me, I think she deserves to wear it every day! :)

Aunt Myrt was diagnosed with breast cancer so many years ago I can't even remember when it was ~ late 60's, early 70's maybe. And honestly, at that time and in my Midwestern Norwegian-rooted family ~ we just didn't talk about things like that. I do know that she had a double mastectomy and for years - actually to this day - has suffered after effects from treatments and recurring problems. But see that smile? It has rarely left her. Which makes me love and admire her all the more.

Another Aunt - Lois - was diagnosed with breast cancer around the same time, I believe. Again, Midwestern... Norwegians... we just didn't talk about it. Again, (I believe) a double mastectomy and recurring problems for years. She died a few years ago and I have to think that the many years of treatments, etc. helped to wear her body down.

Mom? Well, Mom had a lumpectomy several years ago and bless her - it was benign. As a tribute to her sisters she took part in a clinical trial for tamoxifen (a breast cancer fighting drug) for a couple of years before the FDA approved it. She felt it was the least she could do.

As for me, from the time I was 20 years old I dealt with fibrocystic breast disease ~ you know, the ol' lumpy breast syndrome. I started with yearly mammograms in my late 20's and continue to this day. Before the mammo machines were upgraded across the board, I had to be sure they put me in the right room ~ you know, the one with the super duper machine that could see thru ultra-dense breasts. I've had more ultra-sounds than I can count; needle biopsies (those aren't much fun - like being shot with a nail gun); met with cancer doctors to determine exactly how high-risk I was and ultimately underwent surgery myself - to remove a large myserious lump. That was the strangest surgery I've ever had. I was awake, talking with the doctor and the nurse as the doctor operated under a local anesthetic and removed this big lump. TMI - definitely for me. I wanted to be asleep...

I was one of the lucky ones ~ it was benign. But it was a wake up call for me. I began to appreciate my days more because I knew ~ there but the grace of God... And I knew I needed to give back for those who haven't been so fortunate.

Over the years I've done different things to help the cause but the biggest to date has to be my "Breast Cancer Comfort Friends" featured in my shop. And now you know why each little bunny and puppy that leaves my shop to bring comfort to someone suffering is so very special to me...

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