She found the lump.
At age forty-eight, it must be empowering to look cancer in the face and give it the finger. It must be harder when twelve years down the road, it comes knocking angrily at your door again. The breast cancer was more aggressive this time, and a lumpectomy simply was not sufficient. The cancer had spread and more extreme measures needed to be taken.
She would need to undergo a mastectomy, a surgery that would take away part of what we consider our womanhood. But if we’re being honest, she handled it like a champ, and she was once again considered cancer free.
They say the third time is the charm.
It had spread to her other breast and she knew this meant a double mastectomy. We had never seen her so frail and fragile, but never once did her will power and audacity cease.
Doctors say my Nana is a very rare case. Being diagnosed with breast cancer three times over the course of fifteen years, and beating it every time, is unheard of. She once told me, “It’s not the obstacles you face, but how you overcome them.”
Persevering through the loss of both of her breasts, rounds of radiation, chemotherapy, and the loss of her hair, she not only inspired me to get involved with organizations that support finding a cure, but also to live by that quote each and every day.
Breast cancer awareness is obviously something that is near and dear to my heart. It is astounding that about one in eight women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
Courageous, spirited, independent, and strong are just a few words I would use to describe my Nana. But these words describe all cancer survivors. It’s our job to support them and raise awareness and funds so that we can eliminate the “C” word forever.