Me, Grandpa, Grandma (when she was sick one of the recent times), Lindsey

Breast Cancer Awareness: As you know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As much as I get irritated by the 20-page sections in every women’s magazine covering the issue, I know it’s important to do so.

Like many of you, breast cancer has affected my family. I wrote last year about how my Grandma has battled and won cancer three times. The first time it was breast cancer and yes, she lost her breasts. I cannot imagine what she has gone through — dealing with this ugly disease now for over 20 years. It never seems to leave her.

But she is so strong. And God has truly worked miracles in her body and her life. You see, I think she might not be here without those miracles. When she was diagnosed for the first time, it was bad. Really bad. I remember being 8 years old, praying for her in Sunday School and feeling weird because she looked different wearing a wig. I remember spending Christmas Day in the hospital, the strange feeling of being there on that day, clutching my new doll from Santa.

She recovered. Without getting into too many details, it was God plain and simple. She’s still dealing with the cancer stuff today. It comes and goes it seems and I just keep praying, reminding God what a blessing she is to this world — how many people see His love and kindness and grace through her life. She’s only 71. I’m pretty sure He got the message recently because she is doing better. It’s just not time yet, clearly!

I posted the photo below of my Grandma snow tubing at Christmas because I’ve no doubt her spirit and love of life had contributed as well to her healing in some way. This is a great one:

The second part of cancer is my Mom. Thank goodness for technology and research. Not too long ago, it became possible to be tested for the BRCA1 gene. A simple test  can now tell you if you have  what’s known as the “breast cancer gene.” If you have it, you have an extremely high chance of developing breast/ovarian cancer after the age of 40.

My Mom took the test recently and it came up positive. So, at the age age of 49, she made the drastic decision to remove her breasts and ovaries. Her sister, my aunt, did the same. Their other sister came up negative for the gene.

Found this on Pinterest. Not that cancer is a laughing matter but I like their style.

You have to love my Mom because she made it seem like it was no big deal. I’ve learned that from her — sometimes you have to do hard things but there is not point in dwelling on how hard they are. Just do it. She’s like yeah yeah, I was out for a few days. Now, I wasn’t there to see how she really handled the process, which does require a long recovery time.

But she did it and it was done. Check check, move on with life, it’s time to train for my next marathon! (Yes, that’s where I get it!). However, you know what this whole thing meant…

My Mom and Dad.

If my Mom had the gene, I had a high  chance of having it myself. I put off taking the test for over a year. I was in my 20s and didn’t want to think about the fact that I would probably get breast cancer someday in the distant future. But…I had to know. I braced myself for the worst. I just assumed the test would be positive since my mom and Grandma had it. Plus, my Grandma’s sister died of breast cancer and I’d recently heard of a distant cousin who’d gotten it in her early 30s.

So, I took the test. When they called to tell me I had tested negative for the gene, I was ecstatic. This meant I didn’t have more chance of getting breast cancer than any other person. I would not have to be as cautious with my doctor’s appointments (obviously not careless but…) and best of all, I wouldn’t  have to remove my breasts and ovaries. Had I tested positive, I planned to get the surgery around age 40, after child bearing years.

My sisters & I, who also plan to take the BRCA1 test.

While I’m glad to know I’m not at high risk, that doesn’t mean others aren’t — or that I’m immune! I share this story so others might be brave enough to take the tests, to do what they need to do to protect themselves. I read a story today about Lindsay Avner, who got a double mastectomy at the age of 23 to protect herself. But everyone is different and we should all be informed. 

My friend Tiffany is running the Savannah Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon to raise money for research. Here’s what she wrote:

In support of the American Cancer Society (ACS), I’ll be hosting Happy Hour at the newly renovated Nick’s Riverside Grill in Georgetown on Wednesday, October 24th, 2012, from 6-9pm.  The American Cancer Society is one of the leading voices in the fight against Cancer, raising millions of dollars each year to support research, outreach, and support in communities across the globe. As a part of the ACS team, I have agreed to raise $2,900 and run 13.1 miles in the Rock n’ Roll 1/2 Marathon in Savannah, Georgia on November 3rd, 2012.

I wanted to help support her effort — as a personal goal and an overall goal for humanity. There are so many things that need our money and support. This month, in honor of breast cancer awareness, I donated to Tiffany’s half marathon. Like with everything else, every little bit can help so give what you can.

Tiffany and I.

It’s so great this is paired with running, as well. As we all know, exercise is a big part of keeping our bodies healthy and strong. Obviously, running is one way I do that — and I love knowing I’m keeping my body strong as well as gaining the added benefits of mental and emotional health, camaraderie, self-confidence and more.

If you live in DC, join us for the happy hour listed above. Shoot me an email if you need more details!

QUESTION: How have you — or do you plan to — help support breast cancer awareness this month?
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