I have had the opportunity to work in the awareness industry. As an employee with The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, I was honored to meet those who were fighting and had survived their cancer and cancer treatments. In my personal life I have met some incredibly strong people who have survived their cancer and cancer treatments, as well.
Each month, there is an awareness effort for something which is effecting thousands. In the month of October, as I am sure you know, Breast Cancer was at the top of everyone’s minds. I believe that the stories of the survivors and their family members are vital to moving forward with the efforts to raise awareness. Learning from other’s experiences is how we avoid duplicating mistakes previously made and help each other in the struggle. This means that even though we left the month of October and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we shouldn’t stop spreading the word or being vigilant on self exams.
Kyla is the daughter to a survivor of Breast Cancer and has had a close call, herself. Her story greatly parallels to this idea of learning from another. Her mother is also a Breast Cancer Survivor and Kyla was diagnosed at the young age of 16 after doing a self-exam. At the age of 20, she had a Bilateral Mastectomy and Reconstructive Surgery. By the time Kyla had the surgery, she had a total of 10 lumps which consumed most of her tissue. During the surgery, the doctor’s found 2 extra lumps they didn’t know were there and those looked precancerous. Since her surgery, she is now on her 3rd reconstruction and has dealt with over a dozen needle biopsies, ultrasounds and mammograms. They have taken all of the breast tissue from her and a total of 13 lumps have been removed throughout these surgeries.
Kyla is an avid runner and this year I was honored to run the Susan G Komen Race For The Cure by her side (although she quickly out – ran me). She runs for her mother and states, “I run for her strength, courage, fight and for all the other men and women who are survivors, still fighting, or those who we have horribly lost to this deadly disease. It was the most challenging time my family has ever been through. Watching a loved one in so much pain every day is something I’d never wish on anyone or anything.”
Wearing pink to be cute, or a bra to direct attention toward yourself is not the type of awareness many survivors and families appreciate. It is the prayers, fundraising and sharing of stories which will save people from experiencing the horror cancer brings. If you talk to any survivors or their family members, there are a few things they will all agree on:
- Early detection is KEY and the best way to be aware is a yearly mammogram and self-examination.
- Even after surviving all the pain, the fight never stops.
- Spreading awareness will help someone.
Breast Cancer Awareness 5k with the Pearl Harbor Stroller Warriors