In Honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month
by Wendy Jacobson
Image: Pink ribbons for cancer awareness by June Griffith*
Although October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it’s very likely that you are aware of the disease because you or someone you know has been touched by it. October’s focus is not so much about raising awareness of the disease. The focus is rather on educating and empowering people, and encouraging them to be proactive in detecting the disease in its early stages.
To support the mission of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, OneWorld Memorials will donate $5 from every sale on our site from October 1 through October 31 to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The donation will be honored for any order of any size and from any of our categories including items from our collection of breast cancer awareness products.
A personal story
Even if you take the suggested steps toward early detection, the disease can still strike you. According to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, every year more than 250,000 women – and 2,600 men – will find out they have invasive breast cancer.
My Mom was one of those people.
Back in 1995 at the age of 52, my Mom went to her doctor for an annual exam, which included a mammogram. Although the test came back “all clear,” the very next week she felt a lump in her breast while doing a self-exam at home. It turns out she had Stage IV breast cancer that had metastasized to her bones. Her doctor gave her six months to live.
Not satisfied with that diagnosis, she was determined to defy the odds. After all, she wanted to see her two daughters get married, and if possible, become a grandmother. Luckily, she managed to do both before succumbing to the disease on January 9, 2008, almost 13 years after her doctor told her to go home, get her affairs in order and enjoy the last few months she had with her family.
She was able to do so with some grit, determination and maybe a little bit of luck. She always possessed a “mind over matter” attitude, which no doubt helped her emotionally with the fight. But she also had to fight tooth and nail – sometimes with her insurance company, sometimes with her doctors – in order to receive the best treatment for her at the time. She learned early on to be an advocate for herself and at times, completely disregard what her doctors told her.
The disease changed my Mom’s perspective on life, her approach to how she lived it, and her appreciation for what she had. Prior to her diagnosis, she moved at a rapid pace, laser focused on her career. When she came home from work when I was a child, for example, it was as if a tornado was coming through the house. After her diagnosis, however, she slowed down and learned to appreciate the smaller things she had been overlooking in her fast-paced world. She became softer and more forgiving of people. She learned that each day truly was a gift, as cliché as that might sound.
Maybe my Mom was unique in her approach to the disease, but maybe not. She learned a lot on her journey about herself, her family, her friends, the insurance industry and hope. And, although she knew she would eventually die from the disease, she was proud of the advances in medical technology that helped to not only extend her life, but also increase the number of breast cancer survivors each year.
According to the American Cancer Society:
- Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women, after lung cancer.
- There are more than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S., including women still being treated, as well as those who have completed treatment.
- Breast cancer among men is about 100 times less common than it is among women. The lifetime risk for a man getting breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000.
Cremation jewelry and other ways to honor a loved one
There are many meaningful ways to honor the memory of a loved-one taken by breast cancer or by any other means. OneWorld Memorials has created a carefully curated collection of cremation urns, jewelry for ashes and various keepsakes for ashes that showcase the pink designs used during breast cancer awareness month. I personally found candles offer a warm and gentle reminder. The cloisonné cremation keepsake candle can be offered as a gift for families to light a candle in memory of their deceased loved one.
I could say that October was just another month on the calendar for my Mom, filled with doctor appointments, chemo treatments, therapy sessions and the like. Still, she appreciated the attention that breast cancer – her disease – garnered every October. She knew that awareness was key to fundraising, research, and eventually to finding a cure.
We all hope for a cure for breast cancer, and all cancers. Wouldn’t it be nice if an October in the not-too-far-off-future was known simply as the tenth month of the year, and nothing more?
*Image can be found here: http://bit.ly/2dMKkyY
Wendy Jacobson is a freelance writer living in Minneapolis with her husband, two kids and dog. She helped market her mother’s book, “Hands Off My Hope: Life Lessons on my Journey with Breast Cancer” at the request of her mom, who died two weeks after publishing it in 2008. She also is the editor of Minneapolis Happening, a digital lifestyle magazine about what’s happening in Minneapolis and the surrounding area.