Three Generations of Breast Cancer
Most of you know me as @aceconcierge on Twitter or Suzie from Facebook. It is not often I open up my personal life in social media to the extent that you will read here today. Of course my close friends and some clients have been made privy to the events that have unfolded in my life and continue to create this new journey. Let me begin by giving you a brief history, before I jump right in.
On the day of my college graduation, my mom who was my best friend, told me she was diagnosed with breast cancer, very aggressive and the size of a grapefruit. Her first doctor said the mass was nothing, to go home and not worry about it. Trusting her medical professional, my mom waited, but she could feel and see the “nothing” growing. By the time she was diagnosed, the tumor was very large. Mom fought long and hard through numerous surgeries, chemotherapies, radiation – oh it was horrible. The cancer metastasized to the bone, the brain, the chest wall. Her strength and courage was unyielding. I admired this woman and that has never waned. My mom passed on June 30, 1991, the day she had chosen for my daughter’s first birthday party, because my dad would be home. Bald is beautiful by the way!! When I see women in the stores that are obviously fighting their own battles, I just want to hug them, telling them that they are not alone.
Several years went by and my sister, Debby, my soulmate, was diagnosed with breast cancer as well. We didn’t even need words to speak, we were so close. Just a tiny tumor they said, node negative and triple estrogen negative. She will be fine. Debby and I mustered everything we had to fight this lethal killer. Mastectomies, alternative therapies, Tai Chi, Chi Gong, a cancer clinic in Mexico, stem cell transplant in Boston and chemotherapy and radiation. (I will tell you I got in trouble at Tai Chi for chewing gum and giggling. The instructor separated me and my sister). Another woman of valor fighting the battle for her life.
We gave them a run for their money and took over the chemotherapy rooms, trying to inform the patients on healthy eating and the immune system. Tell me, why were there Twinkies and sodas for the cancer patients? We didn’t remember any clinical trials or studies promoting the benefits of fats, sugars and processed foods. Debby died in my arms on September 7, 1999, leaving Jessica, a 21 year old college senior without a mom who would never see her graduate and miss all of the upcoming milestones in this young woman’s life. If you have lost a mom, parent or loved one, how many times have you still picked up the phone to call them, to tell them about your day, share something exciting, or just so need to hear the comforting voice on the other end of the phone? I know I have done it and too many times to even count. The void, the hole, remains vacant… it is just a space that no matter how wonderful your life is, no matter how happy you are, it doesn’t go away.
I became the mom and the auntie and that is no easy job!! Dual roles that would conflict at times and I had to remember which hat I was to wear for which conversation. Over the years, I have received Mother’s Day cards from her that almost dropped me to my knees. The tears would flow as I felt her pain, longing for her own mom and then me for mine.
Now today is about Jessica; a 33 year old vibrant and determined woman who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. My niece, my second daughter, must fight this disease that has plagued our family yet again. No matter what they say, three times is NOT a charm. I can’t even explain how I felt when Jesse called to let me know the results of her core biopsy, “Auntie, I am sick.” It was a rush of memories from my past: overwhelming, devastating and scary. She is just a kid!
Jessica’s tumor is 2 CM, a grade 3 and is aggressive, as you can see by reading her story. I recently flew to Miami with my sister in-law to be able to provide support and comfort while meeting some of Jessica’s doctors. Sure, we may have tag-teamed this terrified woman and certainly gave out some grueling tough love, but after many tears, screaming, arguing and lots of hugs, we met with the surgeon and oncologist to learn more about the available conventional methods. Jesse has chosen to have a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. After the surgery, Jesse will travel to New Hampshire for life-saving therapies at the Sante Center for Natural Healing, administered by Carol Facella-Kummins. (Update: Jesse is already in NH receiving treatments and her surgery is scheduled for 12/19 in Boston, MA).
My goal here is to share her journey, listen to yours and touch a few hearts along the way, as it is our fight too. We have all been touched by cancer in one form or another and the shared support, love and prayers are helpful to everyone.
Please feel free to post your comments, share your stories or click Donate to help defray the medical costs and expenses Jessica will incur, as insurance does not cover her care at the Sante Center. Your kind gift will help to raise enough money to cover Jessica’s treatments, travels and all associated costs to give her a long and bountiful cancer free life. Any residual monies will be donated to a breast cancer organization of her choice.
We thank you for listening and following our story.
Blessings to you.