by Keira Skenandore, Staff Artist
The Illinois Department of Public Health says breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women. Because of these dangerously high statistics, the nation has recognized October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month in order to raise awareness, educate the public on the disease and raise money for research.
This month means a lot to me in particular because my mother, now 51, had a year-long battle with breast cancer during her early 40’s. When I was young, my mom was a tall, high-energy blonde. Her brilliant smile illuminated any dismal mood and always brightened my day. I was eight years old and life seemed to be a smooth ride.
However, in December of 2003, my mother had been diagnosed with first stage breast cancer at the age of 42 and had to endure radiation treatments three days a week for three months. I began to notice the beautiful, high-energy woman with the bright smile that I had known begin to fade. She was no longer always in a good mood, or had the energy to make me laugh. She used the little energy she had left after radiation treatments to work and attend classes at Harper. Our family had hit a rough patch on the road of our smooth lifestyle.
After a year of struggle and conflict, my mother was able to fight against cancer and become cancer-free after treatment. She began to act like herself and had a positive attitude about life again. She made it thanks to the support we found through our family and friends, as well as the Northshore Glenbrook Hospital, where my mother had been treated.
During this month, we should all take a look around at our family and friends who are dealing with breast cancer and give them support. My family believes that without the support we received, we would not have been able to handle the emotional hardship of knowing my mother may not have won the fight.
My mom wants to let other families know, “There is always hope. Breast cancer is not a death sentence. We can make it through this together.” I am lucky I still have my mom with me, and we all have to remember that this will not always be the case. Please support other families dealing with this hardship and help fundraise this month for research to help end this fight against breast cancer.