My Mom Had Breast Cancer: A Daughter’s Story

This past summer, my mom was asked to throw out the first pitch of the Team USA vs. Puerto Rico World Cup of Softball XII game. When she first told me, I giggled despite myself because, well, I’m not sure she’s thrown a softball in over 30 years. When it came time for her to throw, though, there was nothing but pride swelling in my chest and tears choking me up.

She wasn’t chosen because she’s the Vice President of a successful company (which she is) or because she’d won some sort of lottery. She was asked because she is a Breast Cancer Survivor. At the time of the pitch she was still in recovery from her double mastectomy and only halfway through her process. Now, she is considered cured.

This isn’t going to be your typical post about breast cancer and awareness for this month we hold to such a high standard. This post is from her oldest daughter’s perspective. This is my story. Maybe, in a way, it’s your story, too.

I always knew one of us would get breast cancer. It runs rampant in our family, and all of us have had a shaky check up at some point. Honestly? I just thought it would be me. When my mother told me she was going in for testing due to an abnormality, my blood ran cold. Because I knew. I knew it was her instead.

You know how we, as mothers, would do anything for our children? I don’t think many of us acknowledge this, but…we would do anything for our parents too, as their children. At least I would. If I could’ve replaced my mom that day…or the day of her first surgery…or the day of her last…or the months of recovery in between…I would. No questions asked. Not because I want to have something has horrible as cancer–don’t get it twisted–I wouldn’t wish that upon my worst enemy. It’s just that, in the same way my heart hurts when one of my babies falls and hurts himself, I couldn’t stand to see her knocked down for even such small periods of time.

You see, my mom is the “strong one”. Even with her diagnosis, she told us with a smile on her face and a simple, “it’s totally fine. The doctor said we caught it so early I shouldn’t even need a mastectomy, just the lumpectomy. It’s totally fine!” But it wasn’t fine. And she did need more surgeries. What did she do? She put on a happy face, did what she had to do, and kicked cancer’s you know what.

Special thanks to Mandy K Photography for always getting such special shots of Grammy and her Grands <3

This may seem like a simple story. A happy story of survival and no chemo with the horrible side effects that come with it. In a way, it is, I’ll give you that. You know why? Early detection, my friends. It WILL save your life, or at least extend it beyond what is expected. Let me share a few statistics/facts:

  • In 2017, it’s estimated that among U.S. women there will be 40,610 breast cancer deaths; 460 for men. 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed.
  • From 1989-2014 (most recent data available), breast cancer mortality decreased by 38 percent (avoiding about 300,000 deaths) [49]. This decline in mortality is due to improved breast cancer treatment and early detection [49].
  • White and black women have the highest breast cancer incidence/mortality overall [100]. American Indian/Alaska Native women have the lowest [100]. 
  • The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans (since September 2010) to cover yearly mammography (with no co-payment) for women ages 40 and older [104].
  • All women are at risk for breast cancer.

Read that again…ALL WOMEN ARE AT RISK FOR BREAST CANCER. You, me, our daughters, our mamas, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, best friends, etc. To me, that’s heavy. No, I don’t walk around thinking, “who will get breast cancer next?”, but I also thought I was a little more prepared to hear the news than I was, knowing what I know. But it was my mama…and NOTHING hurts my mama!

So, what did I do? What would you do? Personally, I cried. A lot. Especially because when she first found out, I was one of the first people she told…but she asked me not to tell anyone. That secret weighed heavy on my heart. I wanted nothing more than to tell my sister and cry on her shoulder; but I couldn’t. It wasn’t my story to tell, and my mom wasn’t ready to let the world know yet. So I cried at the most random of times, about nothing and about everything. I cried because I could do nothing to change it, and because although my mom was being so positive, I was still bracing myself for her possible death (y’all, I’ve never claimed to not be a tad bit dramatic).

        On game days #wewearpink

Once I was done crying, I educated myself. I asked questions. I learned how to be a little more politically correct about things, such as breast implants {i.e. do not EVER ask a woman with breast cancer if she’s had a “boob job”}. I held her hand and fixed her hair when she couldn’t lift up her arms. I watched my mom be strong, and it made me strong. I watched her be human, and it made me want to be her superhero. I listened to her talk about how glad she was to have the cancer out of her body, even at the cost of the one thing that makes most women feel feminine. I witnessed her growing faith and finding comfort in God, never placing blame for this current season of life. I re-evaluated my own life and purpose as a mother, and let me tell you…it’s been worth it.

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2 Responses to My Mom Had Breast Cancer: A Daughter’s Story

  1. Lacee Parod October 2, 2017 at 9:13 am #

    Loralei, Beautiful story! Sending your Mama and the whole family my thoughts and prayers! Miss seeing your face everyday!

  2. Kelly Koutahi
    Kelly Koutahi October 2, 2017 at 7:02 pm #

    Amazing post, we don’t know how strong we are until we have to face one of the “unthinkable” situations like a dear one’s illness. Thank you for your story and open heart.

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