I was two years old when I was introduced to this world of breast cancer. That is when my mother found her first lump, and we had no idea then that this was only the start. We stayed clear of the disease for almost eight years, but when I was 10 years old, on her 50th birthday, my mother found yet another lump. We had an uneasy feeling from this point on that every couple of years we would be struck again by this awful disease.
Every two years after that, she would find a lump: first in her right breast, then in the left, then one in tissues near the lymph nodes which would eventually cause her to suffer from lymphedema.
Every time it was the same couple of rounds or radiation followed by chemo. I was 12 years old when I first saw a chemotherapy room. For such a melancholy place, my mother somehow made it very entertaining and rather funny, gathering all the nurses for a small gossip session, rapidly becoming their favorite patient.
My mother was a star at everything. When you would look at her you would have no idea that inside, this disease was killing her little by little. Even during her most intense moments fighting this disease she still kept up with her own real estate company and somehow managed to make sure that my life as a child remained filled with love and happiness. I came first, and she always told me that no amount of time that we could have together would ever be enough. Every trip to the doctor was just another chance to go out for lunch and maybe hit up the sales at the Nordstroms.
It was never about her disease, it was about living. My mother was her own self-saver at times, never being satisfied with what the next doctor would tell her. She always managed to make sure she was in the best hands. She didn’t care what it took, for it was for her health, and making sure she could be around long enough for me.
By the time I turned 20, we all knew that my mother's strength was wearing and her condition had become much worse. After 18 years of fighting this awful disease known as breast cancer, my mother passed away on her 60th birthday. During the span of 18 years, breast cancer had turned into bone cancer, into lung cancer, finally into brain cancer. She was one hell of a woman, who managed to fight and save her life more times than I can count. I am lucky enough to have known her and to be able to call her my mother. She was an inspiration to anyone and everyone who had the pleasure of knowing her.
Six months after my mother passed away, my father and I made the decision to have me tested for the BRCA gene. Knowing that my mother and her sister were BRCA2 positive, we thought it was better to know now than to waste our time guessing. To our dismay, I tested positive for the BRCA2 gene. This disease is horrible. It takes lives, and it’s up to you how you decide to let it affect you. The moment I found out that I was BRCA2 positive I had to decide to either let it destroy me or accept it and move on. For some odd reason I thank breast cancer for being a part of my life.
Sure, I wish more than anything my mother was there to see me graduate from college, walk my down the aisle and meet my amazing husband and more than anything be here to meet her delicious granddaughter Ellie bellie but breast cancer has really forced me to have the courage to live my life the way I want. It gave me the courage to graduate six months early and move to a different country where then met my husband. It gave me the strength to decide to do the preventative mastectomy and the courage to do PGD/IVF to make sure that my future offspring and my delicious daughter would never know what the word BRCA means and most importantly to go after things I would never have thought were possible and somehow make them reality.
In some weird way, I have breast cancer to thank for all the honest and positive moments in my life and for allowing me to shape the life I truly wish to live and to have.
This is why I am asking for you to please support me as I commit to an incredible challenge. The Susan G. Komen 3-Day is a 60-mile walk over the course of three days. And while I am only doing one day of it, 20-miles, I am omitting to do my part to try to end this terrible disease. That’s why I’m walking and why I’m raising money – to end breast cancer forever.