Breast cancer has touched my life in so many ways that sometimes it’s almost frightening to do self-breast exams or go for mammograms for fear of what I may find or the lab tech may discover during the exam. But it’s not knowing what kills you, knowing can actually save your life.
I lost my aunt to breast cancer two years ago. As one would imagine the family was devastated. My father’s oldest sister probably discovered the lump three years before her death. The thing that hurts most is the distant relationship I had with my aunt. We talked on the phone a few times, I visited her home, she would invite me to go shopping and I would always have something to do. This was before I knew she was sick. She was a professor at a well-known University in the south. She loved inspiring and teaching. My biggest regret is not getting to know her better. Life has a way of waking you up and making you realize life is too short for petty differences, things that happened in the past; it is so important to embrace each day and love the ones you are with and love the ones at a distant as well.
My aunt put up a good fight. No one wants to die. She was still young in her mid-50’s. Just beginning to relax and enjoy life before her diagnosis. No one wants to think about leaving their loved ones or knowing their existence will be no more. The first stages she went through were the denial stage; this was just not happening to her. Whenever you saw her she had a happy smile on her face and was just as bubbly as ever. You would not have known what she was battling deep within. There was a time when her cancer went in to remission. I would talk to my sister and she would tell me my aunt was doing better. My sister would always tell me she was going to visit and stay with her. In the back of my mind I thought they were hanging out enjoying themselves and I was jealous. I just never knew how serious it was. I keep telling myself I would have tried to get to know her better. I was jealous because I wanted the relationship I knew my sister and aunt had. But little did I know all I had to do was pick up the phone and invite myself to some of the visits. But my sister was not doing all the things I thought; she was actually spending time and helping care for my aunt out. She needed someone and my sister was there for her. They had a bond one that I possibly could not understand.
The night I got the phone call that my aunt had passed away. It hurt and it still hurts, because the only memory I have of her is the one of her standing over my shoulder at a Thanksgiving dinner when I was in my early 30’s and I soon to be 40 now asking me was I enjoying myself. When cancer spreads it spreads with a vengeance. There was nothing more the doctors could do. She died, but she died with other family members at her bedside. I hurt and mourned from a distance. Since her death another one of my aunts was diagnose with breast cancer, and our relationship had been distant for years, but I learned the hard way from my father’s sister that I was not going to lose another loved one without telling her how much I loved and appreciated her. So every chance I get I send her a birthday card, letters, I call and attend family occasions as much as possible. Breast cancer has a way of silently sneaking in and robbing you of precious moments I am not about to let that happen again.