Something You May Not Know About Me….

Two of my besties – Pat and Debbie!  I love these girls!

Today I thought I’d post something a little different.  There’s no recipe at the end.  No pictures of my foyer or other house projects and definitely none of my cats.  This post is dedicated to two things very near and dear to my heart – My Mom & Breast Cancer.

Blisters and Bandaids and Moleskin – Oh My!

When I was in my early 20’s I got a call from my Mom.  We lived about 300 miles away from each other and the first thing she said was “Are you sitting down”.  I knew it wasn’t going to be good news.  She went on to tell me that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.  It was early on-set and would require a lumpectomy and radiation and the Doctor thought her outlook was good.  Believing that my Mother owned a big red cape with an “S” on it, I gave this news very little weight.

The Finish Line After 3 Days of Walking – Still Smiling!

11 years later I got that call again.  This time, she thought she had the flew, only to become so frail that she could barely walk.  The outlook this time – much more severe.  She ended up having a radical bilateral mastectomy (both sides).  I can remember it as if it was yesterday – her Doctor saying “because of this surgery you have a 1% chance getting a relapse and you don’t need radiation or chemo”.  I know Doctor’s aren’t the end-all-be-all but when someone says something so bold, you tend to believe them.

Why I Walk – So She Will Never Know Breast Cancer!

1 year later she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer and it had traveled from her breast to her liver, spinal cord and brain. This phone call was the one that changed my life forever.  Not only was I devastated by the news that she was terminal, but I began to fear for my own life.  See there’s more to the story.  When I was a young girl, my Grandmother (my mothers mother) was diagnosed with breast cancer as well.  Twice.  She had two radical mastectomies.  This was before doctors cared what you looked like AFTER surgery.  She’ll be turning 92 later this year and is a true survivor.

My Sweet Grandma – Photo Taken August 2011

If you look at statistics you’ll find that your risk increases when you have one or more direct relative that is diagnosed with cancer.  Any kind of cancer.  Some doctors think genetic testing is smoke and mirrors and others are beginning to put some emphasis on the validity of it.  I found both of those doctors when I decided to take matters into my own hands.  The 1st doctor said, “do self exam and don’t worry about it”….and made the infamous “smoke and mirrors” comment.  The 2nd doctor said, “this is concerning, let’s see what we can do”.  She was proactive in my health and wanted to help me do what was right for me, not for her.  My grandmother, mother, sister and I all had genetic testing and all came back positive for the same BRCA2 gene mutation.  The BR stands for Breast and the CA – cancer.  It’s not the scarlet letter, but it makes you take pause for sure about what’s right for your own health.

My Beautiful Mother!

Back to my Mother’s story – she underwent the unimaginable after being diagnosed the 3rd time – chemo treatment after chemo treatment was on the docket and there was no silver lining.  It was all just an attempt to prolong the inevitable.  She toughed it out for 9 months or so.  She even managed to stand next to my hospital bed as I underwent 11 hours of radical preventive surgery to lower my risk of the very thing that was killing her.  I wish I could say this story has a happy ending, but unfortunately it doesn’t.  She lost her battle with breast cancer in February of 2007 and will forever be my inspiration to raise money to find a cure for breast cancer so her grandchildren will never have to make the choices I did.  So Mother’s, sisters and daughters all over the world will never have to watch a loved one battle this disease.

That brings me to this – in 1 month I will be packing my bags and flying across country from Washington State to Atlanta Georgia to participate in the Komen for the Cure Breast Cancer 3 Day.  This will be my 4th year walking in honor of my Mom, Grandmother and Sister who also had early on-set breast cancer.  This is one family tradition I don’t want to pass on to my children.  So can you find it in your heart to donate $5?  You will be helping me get one step closer to meeting my fundraising goal of $2300 before October 21st.  I don’t know how many people will be affected by your donation, but I do know that I will thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Thank you for reading and thank you in advance if you chose to click the link.

Here’s my donation page:
https://secure3.convio.net/npt/site/Donation2?idb=693404022&df_id=3081&FR_ID=1610&3081.donation=form1&PROXY_ID=3925510&PROXY_TYPE=20

8 Comments

  • Reply
    Kimmy Bingham
    September 20, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    ((hugs)) what a brave and inspiring post. I’m so sorry for the loss of your mother, but what an amazing way to remember her with your battle against what took her from her. Good luck!

  • Reply
    kpaints
    September 20, 2011 at 6:37 am

    Thank you for this wonderful post about the beautiful women in your family. Thanks to for the opportunity to support you and the cause. See you this weekend.

  • Reply
    Rachel @ Not Rachael Ray
    September 20, 2011 at 5:30 am

    Wow, this post brought tears to my eyes. It sounds like you have a wonderful, close-knit family. Good luck with the walk–what an amazing way to honor your mom.

  • Reply
    Farmgirl Gourmet
    September 19, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    In regards to the Anonymous comment – my friend Anastasia and I have walked the Seattle 3 day 3 years together and decided it was time for a change in scenery – she picked ATL. 🙂 Surprisingly the airfare is about the same as if we would’ve gone somewhere closer.

  • Reply
    Lana
    September 19, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    Heather, you touched me with this post. There is no breast cancer in my family, but right now my mom is fighting a metastatic kidney cancer (they assume, as a biopsy is impossible to preform), while I am taking care of her in Serbia.
    She is going through this battle because there was a doctor, my dad’s colleague, who told her that “everything’s OK”, eleven years ago. You cannot turn back the past, and I am trying to project my anger and impotence into some more positive things.
    I am sad for your mom and you, as I can imagine the loss you feel (I am still crying every day when my mom cannot see me). You inspire me with your determination and strength. Thanks for that!

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    September 19, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Blessings to you and your family and the fight you have taken on. Recently I had a doctor come in after my mammogram and tell me that I needed to entertain the idea that I might have inflammatory breast cancer and that it is the worst kind to be diagnosed with. I thankfully can say I do not, but while it is hereditary in my family as well, I am in awe of the choices you made for yourself and pray your children never have to experience that horrific disease. Question though, why Altanta for the 3-day, family? Seattle just finished with their 3-day. blessings and hugs

  • Reply
    EA-The Spicy RD
    September 19, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Great post,and thanks for supporting the fight against breast cancer. My mom went through two separate bouts, but pulled through both with a clean bill of health. She was and is a big believer in being proactive with her health. No doubt your mother would be very proud of you!

  • Reply
    Wanna Be A Country Cleaver
    September 19, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    A hat tip to you m’dear. And a big hug to your angel mother. Talk about inspirational. This is a fabulous cause, especially knowing so many women having gone through breast cancer before, including one right now who is going through a similar fight as your mother. Her’s has spread as well, and the double mastectomy and chemo hasn’t done much to fight it off.But she’s scrappy.
    All the best as you conquer the world and bitch slap cancer. Looks like you’ve inherited your mother’s Red Cape.

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