Thursday, October 17, 2013

In Honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month

There is nothing that made me want my mommy more than becoming a mom myself.

Mom, Me, and my sister Sarah ~ approx 1991

I miss her.  Breast cancer took her from me and my family in December 1992, when I was 6 years old: She was 35.

My sister, Dad, Mom, Me

She was an incredible person - from what I remember, from what I've seen on our family videos, and from stories people have told me.  She was beautiful.  I mean, have you ever seen anyone rock a mullet like that and be so beautiful?  She had an incredible singing voice and played guitar and piano.  She made blankets and clothes for my sister and me as well as for other people.  She was spunky, and made people smile.  Someone told me that she would send people cards for all occasions, in good times and bad.  She smelled like the beautiful perfume that she wore.  I remember that smell.  She served in our church.  She cared about people.  But this post isn't entirely about her.  

My Mommy and Me

Breast cancer affects everyone.  I grew up without a mom.  That has had a profound impact on my life that I can't explain in one or one hundred blog posts.  My husband never got to meet my mom.  (For the record, I think she would have adored him).  My son will never get to meet his grandmother.  

You've probably seen the latest Breast Cancer Awareness Month status posts on Facebook.  This year, people are posting a heart as their status like this.  Then they e-mail their friends and ask them to put a heart on their account as well as post a heart on the "wall" of the person who e-mailed them.

Picture and Name blocked out

Then when people ask questions about the status, they tell them it's for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Last year, people posted a different status of a similar nature.  People post these status updates with the best of intentions, and I know it comes from a beautiful place of wanting to do something; maybe from a place of wanting to help when we all feel so helpless against breast cancer.

I would like to provide ideas on how people can help with Breast Cancer Awareness and with those who are suffering from breast cancer in addition to posting Facebook statuses.  Some of these ideas are from how people helped my family.

1.  Donate your time.

- Make a meal - While my mom struggled with breast cancer, her health varied, making it difficult for her to care for us in her usual ways.  We had people make meals for us.  If your gift is cooking, take a meal to a family who has a member struggling with breast cancer.  I never understood the power of bringing someone a meal until I became a mom and struggled to take care of my little family in the days that followed.

- Babysit - there were several families, related and not related to us that took care of my sister and me when my mom and dad went to my mom's appointments, or when mom was rushed to the emergency room.  They provided my dad with the opportunity to focus on my mom in those difficult moments.  You could also watch the kids so the mom and dad could have some fun time together.  Or, if there is a family where the mother has passed away, offer to babysit so that the father can go to grief counseling.

- Clean house - offer to go over and clean.  If the woman is someone you know to be a person who struggles with the idea of someone else cleaning her house, then you could arrange with the husband to clean the house while the woman is at an appointment.  She'll be so grateful she won't have time to stress about the fact that someone folded her underwear or saw the inside of her dirty microwave.

- Give rides - there was a time when my dad had to work most Sundays during the month.  Several families alternated giving my sister and me a ride to church.

-Just be there - sometimes having friends present when you're sick or in pain is the best medicine.

2.  Donate to the effort of spreading awareness.

- Use social media to spread awareness - use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc to remind and encourage women to do self breast exams and to get their regular check ups and tests.

- Offer to administer personal breast exams to those in your community - 

                         I'm TOTALLY kidding!!!

- Be a billboard for awareness - where those t-shirts with the catchy slogans or place those bumper stickers on your car.

3.  Donate money.

- Donate money to breast cancer research - you can contribute to breast cancer foundations or sponsor others who are participating in breast cancer fundraisers.

- Get creative - send gift cards to families so meals aren't a struggle.   Someone anonymously donated a hospital bed to my family so that my mom could remain at home with us during her last days.  If you can be that generous, that would be such a blessing.

- If you don't have time to help clean, buy a family a maid service.

4.  Donate your talents.

- If you're musical, go visit the cancer wards in the hospital and play music for the patients and staff.  If you can cook, take a family a meal.  If you can make cards, send families encouraging notes.  If you can sew/crochet/knit make blankets for the women who are going through chemotherapy.  Be creative.

This is clearly not an exhaustive list of ways that you can help with Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  If you're not sure how to find a family who could use your gifts and talents, check with your priest/pastor/Rabbi or (insert religious leader here).  

If the person or family resists you helping them, you can tell them what a very wise woman told me last year... 

"When you don't let people help you, you deny them the opportunity to use the gifts and talents that God has given them for such a time as this."

So I say to you, God has given you gifts and talents for such a time as this.  What will you use them for during Breast Cancer Awareness month?

My Mom and Me - 1988


  1. Amy, this is beautiful. I am so sure your mom would be incredibly proud of the woman you have become. Thank you for the reminder of how to be Jesus to people.

  2. Thank you so much for your kind words :)