No Days Off - My Story & Breast Cancer Awareness Month
On October 1st 2019 at 9:38am I sat with my sister in the ICU to learn more from her doctors what was caused her to come to the hospital with a hemoglobin level of 22 vs. the 120 of a healthy woman. I sat with her waiting to learn about what was causing her to not produce enough blood what was causing her to need 12 blood transfusions when she arrived at the hospital 3 days earlier and find out why she has been walking around with a broken pelvis and simply get some answers.
Me, the little sister at 44 years old, I still look up to my big sister for guidance and strength. I knew the news was not going to be good, but nothing could prepare us for what we were about to learn.
I had a pad of paper and pen in hand ready to take notes to make sure I captured everything for her husband who went home to shower after spending 3 days with her, sleeping on a chair and being her rock.
I know what time it was, because I looked at my phone before I put it in silent mode. 9:38 is imprinted in my brain for all time.
When the doctor sat down, he explained the tests, she had a broken pelvis, fractures in her femurs. I took down all the notes and I just blurted out, does she need a bone marrow transplant, can you test me? why are her bones broken? I just want this to stop and I will donate what ever I need. He said, it is not like that. My sister looked at me, without knowing anything, she knew it was bad. She gave me that look telling me it will be ok. He said she has stage 4 metastatic breast cancer and it has metastasized to her skeletal system. It was in her skull, her spine, her legs had fractures and she asked the doctor, is it in any of my organs? He said no. She said what about my brain? He said no. She looked at me and said, well that is good news! He said, it is STAGE 4 cancer. She looked at me and we just squeezed each others hand.
That was 365 days ago on October 1st 2019.
She was sent home for hospice care a few days after this. She demanded that we all just go home because this is a chapter, she said, this is not the end of my story.
Fast forward to September 30, 2020 - I face-timed my sister today. I told her how proud I am of what she has accomplished this year. I was excited to see her hair grow back, which she shared she is about to lose it again because of a new radiation treatment. I probably had a sad look on my face, because she said it is fine. It is part of the process to get healthy.
I asked her, what are you up to for the rest of the day? She said she was on her way to the hospital in a few minutes for chemo. She said, you know Helena, there are NO DAYS OFF from cancer. That hit me. It really hit me.
I only know what it is to be a family member on the sidelines. I watch her from a distance (thanks Covid) battling, fighting and killing cancer like it is her job. I know her husband has given up so much to be her primary care provider as well. She is still battling this and she is fighting hard. She is right, there are No Days Off from this fight.
This is the month to bring awareness to this deadly disease.
For the month of October MINDD will be donating $5 dollars from every bra purchased to an organization, I honestly don't know which one, that focusses on supporting underserved women either get a mammogram, pay for transportation to get to a mammogram or giving women who are fighting the battle a break, something to feel joyous about as they fight this fight, I really don't know yet. Please share suggestions.
We all need a little support and thank you to all of the women who support MINDD everyday. It is our chance to say thank you.
Thanks for all the support!!