Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is much more than just wearing a pin or a pink shirt during October. For so many people (including myself), the month of October is very personal. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. The diagnosis was shocking to everyone in the family, because there was no previous history of breast cancer in our family. After enduring months of two mastectomies (not performed at the same time), recovery and reconstructive surgeries, my mother was left feeling hopeless, and less of a woman.

I felt angry when the hospital released her to go home the day after her first mastectomy. I don't know if I'd ever felt such deep-rooted aggression before. My mother winced in pain as we tried to gently help her into the back seat of the car, where she had to lie down for the duration of the ride. We took her to a hotel, where she spent a couple of days recovering after surgery, because home was hours away from the hospital she chose. Once home, it took me, my sister and my father to care for her- emptying drainage tubes and pockets of fluid, measuring them and recording the measurements several times a day. We took shifts- making meals, keeping the house clean (because we had several visitors a day), keeping up with mom's medicines (although she pretty much refused painkillers), helping her take a shower and dress. We knew she was feeling more like her old self the day she let my sister and me fix her hair and put a little makeup on her face, but we all knew that a part of her would never be the same.

Though my mother is in remission, I am adamant about reminding her about check ups. I know that there's a good chance that it could come back. What's equally frightening is knowing that my sister and I are both at risk, and that when we turn thirty, we'll need to start having yearly mammograms, which we'll have to pay for out of pocket.

Regardless of the scariness or the cost, I intend to do all I can to take care of myself, my mom, my sister, any future daughter I may have, and all of the other women in my life. After going through what seemed like hell on earth with my mother, I became a breast cancer advocate with the Susan G. Komen Foundation. I have registered and sponsored Passionately Pink for the Cure campaigns in my workplace for the past several years. I believe it is the easiest way to raise money for breast cancer research and awareness.

Passionately Pink is free to register online, and they provide you will all of the materials you need to make it a success. When I ran the campaign, I put up posters all over the office, and we had clients and visitors donating to our cause- what a joy and a blessing it was to have their support and involvement! People can even donate online using an ID number for your team. Passionately Pink will send the team leader materials including posters, pins, thank you notes and breast health information. It's so easy to put together (even at the last minute) and get people excited about it! Just register online at Passionately Pink , decide on a monetary goal, pick a date for everyone to wear pink to work, bring in pink colored cookies, etc. At the end of the month, collect donations from the people in your place of business, along with any donations they may have taken outside of the workplace, stick them in an envelope and send them back to the Komen Foundation.

Of course, you can plan a big event- to take place after work, have a head to toe pink costume contest, cake walk, etc… Make it fun for people to participate, but always stress the reason for the event and the importance of breast health and self checks!

Hallmark offers free Susan G. Komen cards at participating stores for you to send to someone you love during October. It's a great way to show you care.

This year, I am raising funds for breast cancer awareness in a different way. I am a consultant with a company called Celebrating Home, a company that celebrates women, home and family. I am donating 50% of my personal sales commission to the Susan G. Komen Foundation on all direct orders placed between October 6 and October 11 in honor of my mother, my sister and all of the women in my life. If you would like to participate, please go to Celebrating Home between 10/6 and 10/11.

You are encouraged to be passionately pink for the cure!

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