"When I get breast cancer." Sounds awful, doesn't it? Perhaps to some. But to others, especially to women like me, each day that passes is another day to think about, to be grateful for, to take every step possible to avoid the breast cancer that lurks in her genes, that flows through her blood, that might finally settle in her breast tissue or lymph nodes -- and elsewhere -- someday. Each of my days is a reminder that my grandmother's days ended at age 64, when breast cancer got her.
Lena Hellmueller Gifford was a highly respected teacher at the small private school I attended as a child. I was only 6 years old and in first grade when she died, but I remember her vividly -- her spunk, her voice, her eyes, her hair, her dresses, her passion, her presence -- and her absence since. She was an incredibly strong woman, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, matriarch, teacher, business owner, community member, fisher(wo)man -- you name it. I'd say it had something to do with that thick German blood of hers that I also possess, the same blood that could bring me the same fate. Will breast cancer get me, too?
If I get breast cancer, my days will have much better odds of continuing than hers did. Research, knowledge, and awareness of breast cancer and how to not only detect it earlier and better, but to prevent it and kill it have come a long way since 1977 when my grandmother lost her fight. If my breast cancer genes decide to show their ugly faces, my only hope is that this precious 6-year-old, first-grader's face has already grown and seen and become all the great things I am most certain he will, all while having his mother's face to turn to whenever he needs me.
And if I get breast cancer, this site will be my very first stop. The experience and guidance of PJ and Phyllis, Laura and Fran, Angi and Poteet, Sherree and Maimah, Jolene and Marisa, Kevin and Doug -- and ALL the others who've fought and beat it, who are fighting to beat it right now, and those who've lost someone dear to it but continue to hold others up -- will give me strength to not only look back at, but to snarl at the face of breast cancer. But really, a mere glance at this face would be all I need.
I'm sad to report that my time here on MyBreastCancerNetwork.com has come to an end. I can't describe how fortunate I feel for the opportunity to be a part of your lives as I have. You've opened my eyes and touched my heart in a million different ways. I wish you all the best of life, luck, and love.
And to the infamous PJ Hamel -- you amaze me. THANK YOU for all you do.
Best of health,
Community Moderator (2007-2009)
Published On: December 31, 2008