Breast cancer is a horribly frightening and life changing illness which has, in some way shape or form, effected most of us. It could be your neighbor, work colleague, mail lady, favorite waitress, doctor, best friend, sister, daughter, or even mother. No mater who it is in your life, the sinking truth is that many of us know someone who has been diagnosed. No matter if that loved one is currently, bravely, fighting for their life or smiling down on you from heaven, the reality is that we all need to pull together to defeat this heartbreaking disease. Hold hands, unite and come together to make a change. Make a difference. I believe it can be done. Someday it will.
~On a warm day in June I sat in our long muddy dirt driveway and slopped brown thick mud pies between my small hands. As the wet squidginess oozed between my fingers I observed my little sisters fascination with an ugly fat slimy earthworm that was desperately trying to squirm away from her tiny prying fingers. There we sat in the early morning sun, as happy as clams, giggling in our messy play while my father stood across the road and made light hearted chit chat with our neighbor and good friend, John (who, ironically enough, would be diagnosed with breast cancer himself years later, look it straight in the eye... and win).
To this day I still remember that morning perfectly, the pure happiness and unassuming innocence of mud pies and mud puddles. Oh what I wouldn't give to change the alarming events that happened next. The events and memories attached that I've forced deep into the back of my mind; muddled, squished and deformed just like the mud on my little 9 year old fingers, and as the years have passed I've desperately tried to forget them. But there're still there, even now, and they still force large billowing tears in my eyes.
"Darwin! Darwin! Get in the car, your mothers lips are blue." My mothers voice was sharp, high pitched and shaking as she swung the front door open and hurried down the steps of our front porch, keys rattling in her hands. I'd never heard her speak this way and I was instantly frightened.
"What? Betty, what?" Dad had started running from across the road by this point.
"That was your father on the phone. Your mother's lips are blue we've gotta go now." At this point my mother was already inside the car and my father was close behind her. Sonya and I stood now, confused and scared, in our driveway covered from head to toe in mud as a result of full fledged production in our mini mud pie factory.
"Mandy and Sonya, go to Mrs. Pawul's right now. You go right now, she'll watch you." Mom screamed this last order out of the rolled down window as she sped past us and out of our dirt driveway onto the warm pavement of Munger Street.
The rest of the days events are blurred, hazy and full of gaps. Nevertheless, the snip-its permanently tattooed in my memory are still painful. I remember Grandma Bedard, my Mom's mother, arriving at Mrs. Pawul's house and kneeling down in front of me, looking straight into my eyes, to tell me that my Grandma Cousino had just died. I did something then, out of pure heartbreak, hurt and immaturity that I still regret to this very day because I know my grief stricken words must have hurt her deeply. "No! No! You're lying. You're lying because you think I love Grandma Cousino more. You're lying, she's not dead! Grandma's not dead." I shouted them in her face and I continued to scream and cry while she hugged me. I remember pulling into my grandparent's driveway to find my Uncle Franky slumped against the porch railing. Mom hugging me. And I remember sitting on Grandma's bench swing on the back porch, staring into the woods we used to watch for deer together in, and feeling my Dad's big arms hold me close. He sat in the middle of my sister and I, pushing the swing back and forth with the balls of his feet, looking straight ahead with his dark black sunglasses on. That was the first time I ever saw my Dad cry. It was then that I believed my Grandma, at the age of 56, had died. Cancer, that disgusting, awful, cheating disease had won and robbed our entire family of a pivotal member. On that warm, sunny June day I lost one of the most important, inspirational and adored women in my entire life. There's been a gaping hole ever since.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Although technology and treatment has come leaps and bounds from 15 years ago, it's still a pivotal and life changing disease that devastates millions of families each year. I'm thankful in that I have family members and friends, such as my Aunt Claire and our neighbor John, who have won their battle against the disease, but I also know so many, like Grandma, who have not. Please click the link to find the nearest screening location to you or to donate/purchase from the Breast Cancer Awareness online store.
Together, we can change lives and fight against Breast Cancer.