Breast cancer has had a profound impact on my life. This time of year, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I reflect on the disease and the impact it has had on my life and my priorities. First and foremost, I never forget how blessed and fortunate I am that my mom is alive and well. For the past 15 years as a survivor, she has been the driving force behind my passion and commitment as the Co-founder of Men Against Breast Cancer.
To say that breast cancer changed my life would a huge understatement. In battling alongside my mom, Gloria, I came to realize that much of what I thought was important -- material things, what others thought of me and whether I was keeping up with my contempories in the grand scheme of things -- mattered not at all. What mattered was family and being there for them.
Facing breast cancer in my family was a reality check for me as a person and the type of life I wanted to live. I saw my Mom handle her diagnosis, her treatment, and her life beyond breast cancer with the same dignity, grace, and courage with which she had always handled life. Through my Mom, I was able to see the glass being half full and not half empty.
Is this description of the personal life lessons I learned oversimplistic? Maybe. But, the truth is the truth, even if they are platitudes. My family and I faced the harsh realities of a life-threatening situation with what my mom and dad taught my brother and me, that is, to never forget where you come from and to always get up when knocked down.
I happen to be one of those people who believe in fate, and I believe my Mom getting breast cancer gave me the opportunity to find and choose a path in my life that became my vocation.
My mom and others who face this horrible disease head on are heroes who inspire me daily to be a better person. Additionally, the men I have met who are amazing caregivers who deeply love the women in their lives are also my heroes. They never cease to touch my heart. After seeing so many people battle so valiantly with so much love how can you not become a better person?
I decided that I wanted to be a better person who cared more and was more compassionate to others. Now, whether that is how I am perceived I can't answer, that is up to others. I can honestly say though that is what drives me everyday to try and make a difference.
I have learned that there is nothing more important in this world than family, being a good husband and father, and being there for others. We all have to look in the mirror at night, and we can't lie to the reflection we see. I have come to believe that, in the end, God does not care how deep our pockets our, but how deep is our heart. I had been taught this my whole life by my parents, but I finally got it and learned it when breast cancer became part of our family in 1992.