Why #BoobieWed Is Important To Me

Unlike some of the other awesome girls I follow on Twitter, I don’t normally post pics on #boobiewed (when girls post reminders to check your…boobies, obviously). But when talking with Natali – @UberDorkGirlie about her epic calendar project, I started thinking about my mom’s story and how breast cancer and screenings fit into it.

Sometimes I completely forget, because breast cancer was such a small part of my mother’s cancer battle. She died after battling carcinoid cancer for over 8 years, 5.5 knowingly and another 3 before it was properly diagnosed.

But almost 7 years ago (after she already had carcinoid but pre-diagnosis), Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was good about breast self-exams and taught me to do the same. She also started getting annual mammograms when she was 50 (or thereabouts, I was young).

Because of her screenings, the cancer was caught early and things went smoothly. The treatment wasn’t ideal, the cancer required a full mastectomy. But she lived. She didn’t even need follow-up radiation or chemo, because the cancer was only in one breast and didn’t metastasize elsewhere. So after a few stressful months, it was essentially over. We were thrilled with the results.

The breast cancer never reared its ugly head again.

This would be a happy ending story except, of course, for the darker & harder-to-see-and-diagnose neuroendocrine cancer lurking in her intestines. That was found far too late to prevent it from being terminal, though she found life-prolonging treatments that got her through another 5 pretty good years (and the last half-year…not so good).

She got to go (back) to England, France, and Canada. She continued teaching Latin to middle school students and took Latin classes at the local university for the sheer joy of knowing Latin better. She read, she planted gardens and trees, and (to be trite) she taught us a lot about making the most of the time we have.

What if the breast cancer had been found later? I don’t know how long she could’ve battled 2 full-blown cancers and the treatments’ side effects. I don’t know what would’ve happened if the breast cancer had metastasized and where it’d have gone. She was a strong and determined woman, but she only had so much energy. Even if she’d lived, I don’t know if she’d have been able to live as fully.

I am very very grateful that Mom was willing and able to get herself properly screened so we had more of her for longer.

5 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for sharing <3

    I have been fortunate so far in that none of my family or friends have had to battle breast cancer, but when I worked as a midwife I placed a lot of emphasis on the importance of breast checks and regular smear tests.

    I'm not sure whether any of it reached the States but we had a reality tv star in the UK called Jade Goody who died at a very young age of cervical cancer – it really had a huge impact on the public and we had a lot more women coming in for smear tests and asking about breast checks than before. I just wish it was a message that consistently stayed with people :(

  2. Eleni says:

    It’s never enough, but it’s good that you got at least that extra time with your mother.

    I do the self-exams regularly, but I’ve been feeling uneasy lately because it’s been almost three years since my last regular doctor check-up. I just keep losing the battle against procrastination. But you never know what will turn up at a check-up, you could feel fine but have high cholesterol, etc. It’s important, I just need that push to DO it.

    Love the Firefly shirt :)

  3. Ruth says:

    @Three Years I hope your good fortune continues. Like senile dementia (my paternal grandfather) I wouldn’t wish cancer on a person or family.

    I heard a bit about Jane Goody but not much. I hope the lesson sticks with at least some people.

    @Eleni Any little mattered…and, more importantly, the times when she was comparatively well mattered a lot.

    I also procrastinated a lot on doctors and such my first couple years out of college. Part of that was not having good insurance for a year. But now that I’ve got a doctor and have been for a check-up…I feel a lot more at peace about my health.

    And thanks!! It makes me happy. :)

  4. Amy says:

    I’m glad a little more time was gained. One of my aunts struggled with and defeated breast cancer – also because of early detection. Thanks for the extra reminder about why it is so important!! :)

  5. […] people have written about this (notably Natali, the UberDorkGirlie, and my #HeLP, Ruth), but we all have stories, and the more stories that get out there, the more aware people will be. […]

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