That portrait is of my mom. Next month will be the 7th anniversary of her passing. The sharp pain has ebbed, but the burning desire to help others who are going through what we as a family went through hasn’t faded a bit.
When I was about 10 years old my parents brought me and my siblings back to their bedroom (my sister was 20, and my two brothers were 15 and 5). My dad tearfully told us that my mom had just been diagnosed with extremely aggressive breast cancer. They had scheduled a double mastectomy for a few weeks in the future. The surgery went well and Mom completed a few rounds of chemo and was told she was in remission. About 7 years later my parents again called us into their bedroom. Mom’s cancer was back. This time, though, nothing could be done about it. It had never really gone away in the first place. It had just been so aggressive that it had moved into her spine, hiding from any mammograms and screenings her doctors performed. They found it this time through MRIs that had been ordered to figure out why Mom was losing feeling in her legs.
I was in my senior year of high school at the time. My younger brother was now 15 and had been homeschooled by my mom for about 3/4 of his classes due to learning disabilities. I took it upon myself to take over that schooling and attend teacher conferences for my parents as much as I could. The cancer slowly spread into her ribs and skull over the next year and a half. I finished high school and my first 3 semesters of college, driving home every weekend to help out.
During that time my mom was receiving hospice care, having bravely refused to be admitted to the hospital, saying that she wanted to be where her family and friends were. She peacefully passed away on November 25, 2005, five days before her 55th birthday. Myself, my dad, and my siblings were able to be with her until the very end. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything in the world.
I’m now 26 years old, with a 4-year-old daughter of my own. As my own mother was a victim of breast cancer and her mother was a 15-year survivor, breast cancer prevention and awareness have become a large part of my life. I want to live to see my daughter married, to meet my grandchildren, and to grow old with my husband. I’d like to do something, anything, to help before this disease can further affect my own or my daughter’s life, or the lives of anyone else. And I’m sure many of you feel the same way.
Did you know that Bank of America has now partnered with the Susan G. Komenâ„¢? Right now, if you go to their partnership site, you can upload a photo of a loved one and they will transform it into a portrait of your words. Plus, Bank of America will contribute $5 for every portrait made through the month of October.
Has someone you know been affected by breast cancer? You too can turn your words of tribute into a portrait of your loved one, as seen above. What better way to honor someone’s memory than by helping someone else through their difficult time.