Dorothye, who would later become my mother-in-law, was diagnosed with breast cancer only weeks after her son and I first met.
Following a double mastectomy and a year of treatment, Dorothye was declared in remission. We were blessed that she remained cancer free for almost 14 years. The cancer would then return as very painful tumors on her spine. Electing not to undergo treatments, we bid farewell to a beloved mother, mother-in-law, grandmother and friend in July 1999.
Dorothye was really the first person, with whom I was close, to be diagnosed with this dreadful disease. That is rather remarkable when one looks at the statistics. Since then, the lives of many friends and other family members have been changed by breast cancer. With them, my life also changed.
I am beyond grateful to say that the majority of those brave women are still living full and active lives today. Great strides have been made in the research and treatment of breast cancer.
There remains much work to be done.
Living in Dallas, I was able to be involved with the early days of the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Friends and I would volunteer hours and manpower preparing for the annual Komen Luncheon, usually held in October. Soon, races and other fundraisers took the place of the annual luncheon. Instead of dresses and suits, we donned our shorts, t-shirts, and running shoes, heading out onto the streets of Dallas. We ran for those who could not. We ran with those who were so grateful to still be able.
~One in eight women in the US will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.
~Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among women in the US ages 40-59.
~A woman dies of breast cancer every 13 minutes in the US.
~An estimated 207,090 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in the US in 2010.
The good news is there are 2.5 million breast cancer survivors alive in the US today, the largest group of cancer survivors in the country.
There should be more.
No family should know the sorrow of having a wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt or grandmother diagnosed with breast cancer. No friend should have to witness the fear or tears of another fighting this disease.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
There are many ways to support breast cancer awareness, research, treatment and patients.
If nothing else, please offer a prayer for those courageously fighting their own illness today.
May we someday know a world where the C word is not the dreaded one of Cancer, but a joyful one such as Celebrate.