A few weeks into my sophomore year of high school, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her mother had lost the battle 15 years earlier, so we knew the possibility existed. But you still never expect something like that to happen to you and your family. What came next is a true testament to the strength and courage displayed by those who must endure the physical and emotional challenges of cancer.
First, she had lumpectomy surgery. That was followed by a mastectomy. While in recovery from her mastectomy, the doctors discovered that 8 of the 10 lymph nodes they removed were enlarged. This meant that the cancer had spread into her rib cage and liver. This is when the doctors told my father to start “making arrangements.”
She started to fight back with four aggressive treatments of chemotherapy. That’s when she lost all of her hair, including her eyebrows and eyelashes. After those first four treatments, the doctors decided to give her a break with the two remaining treatments. These two treatments were what the doctors described as “a walk in the park” compared to the first four. As luck would have it, her body reacted poorly. She lost all of her fingernails, toenails, and even the skin on her palms and the bottoms of her feet. Then she began 28 straight days of radiation therapy.
Through it all, she kept her head held high. When my father and I offered to show our support by going bald, she adamantly protested (and won). I’d sit in the waiting room during her treatments. Each and every time she’d come out with a smile on her face, like nothing ever happened. She wouldn’t let cancer get in the way of being a wonderful wife, mother, sister, aunt, friend, and co-worker to those lucky enough to be in her life – all while engaging in a separate battle with her insurance provider, who tried to label her situation as a pre-existing condition (and winning)! After six long months, she was finally deemed cancer free.
She is not alone in her experience. Each year, hundreds of thousands of women are diagnosed with this terrible disease. Tens of thousands of women and families are not as fortunate as we were 14 years ago. For me, every October is a reminder of this. For my mother, every day is a reminder.
My mother, my family, and the entire Terrain Pharmaceuticals family want to offer our support to those of you who have been affected by breast cancer. If there is anything we can do for you and your family, please do not hesitate to reach out. We’ve been down this road before and we’d like to help others do the same.
Kyle-Operations Manager at Terrain Pharmaceuticals
Breast Cancer Awareness Month Resources: