SOMETHING IS WRONG Something‟s wrong, something‟s wrong. I remember whisperingthose words to my sister, Alison, in our small cluttered room. The feeling had been eating me up for days now. Alison nodded her head confirming she had been having the same feeling. We both sat in our room staring at one another as if one of usheld the answer. We sat silently, listening for any sign that might give us a hint at what might be going on. Down the hall we could hear mom and dad talking. What was going on? I peeked out of our door, listening hard. I started down the hallway. Alison followed me step for step, careful not to step on the squeaky spots on the floor that would give us away. My palms weresweaty as I took my sisters hand. At the end of the hall we laid down on the floor, trying not to breath heavy.
SOMETHING IS WRONG Mom seemed to be on the phone. Who was she talking to? Grandma? Aunt Sharon or Connie? It sounded as if she had beencrying. Why was she upset? My first thought was maybe grandma had another heart attack. Was she alright? Mom‟s voice soundedshattered and full of fear. Alison seemed to look at me for answers and sadly I didn‟t have any. Tears began to run down her chubby cheeks. I squeezed her hand in reassurance. I worked up enough courage to look around the corner andinto the kitchen. Mom was sitting at the kitchen table on the phone. Dad stood close behind her with his hand on her shoulder offering what comfort he could as she sobbed on the phone.
SOMETHING IS WRONG My suspicions had been confirmed, something was verywrong. I was anxious to know what it could be to upset her so much. Was it me? Was it us? Our room did need to be cleaned. Was itgrandma? Was she okay? Why won‟t anyone tell us what‟s going on?Alison and I exchanged looks of concern as if we were carrying on a whole conversation with only our eyes. I heard a sudden squeak. Alison and I both whipped around to find Luke standing in the hallway behind us. He looked confused, too young to understand but old enough to know something was going on. He sat down beside us as we put our fingers to our lips with a shhhh.
SOMETHING IS WRONG Our attention was drawn back to mom as we heard her cry out, “I love you too, I will, I have too, bye.” No one seemed to breathe as we listened in close. Tears continued to roll down Alison‟s face. I had to be strong, I had to find out. Not knowing what was going on was making me sick and upset. I had to find out for Alison‟s sake and my own. I worked up the courage to step out into the kitchen. Alison and Luke each tookmy hand. Mom was drying her eyes. The sadness and fear was apparent in her face. I couldn‟t wait any longer Alison and Luke started to cry. I began to cry right alongwith them as I murmured, “Mommy why are you crying?” I then blurted out, “What‟s wrong is Grandma okay?” She nodded and a weight seemed to be lifted from my shoulders, Grandma was okay. Mom led us into the living room as Dad followed, all the weight seemed to return.My question still had not been answered. What could be wrong? My mom brought us in close, as tears ran down her face. She choked out the words, “I have CANCER.” We all began to cry.
SURVIVORS INTERVIEWWhen were you diagnosed with breast cancerA: June 16th, 2004What stage was your cancer?A: It was stage oneWhich breast was affected?A: The right one.How old were you?A: Thirty-eightWhat scared you the most?A: What scared me the most was dying and leaving my three children to grow upwithout me.When did you find the lump?A: April of 2004
SURVIVOR’S INTERVIEWWhat was your first thought when you were told you had breast cancer?A: My three kids.What procedure did you decide to have?A: The lumpectomy.Why?A: It sounds kind of stupid but I thought about what if I had Gang Green on my littletoe, I wouldn‟t chop off my whole leg at first. So I decided I would have themastectomy if it came ever came back.Is there a history of breast cancer in your family?A: No, not one case.
SURVIVOR’S INTERVIEWWhat precautions do you take now to better protect yourself and stay healthy?A: I had none of the usual risk factors, there was no family history, I wasn‟toverweight, and I exercised and ate fairly well. So I guess just going to the doctor anddoing regular follow ups.Do you still worry?A: Not really, I get a little anxious the day before my annual checkups.Since you caught it so early, what are your chances of the cancer returning?A: The doctor‟s said I have about a 15% chance of it coming back.What would you do to make young women more aware of breast cancer and theirrisks?A: I guess just tell them to get checked out and do self-breast exams every month.With me being your daughter how much more at risk am I than other women at beingdiagnosed with breast cancer?A: I‟m not sure the exact percent but you do have a higher risk.
“I’M GONNA LOVE YOU THROUGH IT”“I‟m Gonna Love You Through It” – Martina McBride She dropped the phone and burst into tears The doctor just confirmed her fears Her husband held it in and held her tight Cancer dont discriminate or care if youre just 38 With three kids who need you in their lives He said, "I know that youre afraid and I am, too But youll never be alone, I promise you" When youre weak, Ill be strong When you let go, Ill hold onWhen you need to cry, I swear that Ill be there to dry your eyes When you feel lost and scared to death, Like you cant take one more step Just take my hand, together we can do it Im gonna love you through it.
“I’M GONNA LOVE YOU THROUGH IT” My mom was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in 2004 at the age of 38. Iwas 12 years old, my sister was 10, and my brother was only 7. Martina McBride‟s single “I‟m gonna love you through it” released in 2011, 8years later. Her lyrics related to my mom‟s own story and expressed her same fears as a mother fighting cancer. “Cancer don‟t discriminate or care if you‟re just 38, with three kids who need you their lives.” -- My mom admits to having the same fears whenshe was diagnosed and battling cancer. I even remember staying up at night and thinking who will take care of us (my sister, brother, and I) while Dads working if something happens to mom? The words in the song were real experiences for my family. Now, as a survivor, the song is my mom‟s own anthem that, in a way, expressing and sharing her story. Our family finds comfort in the song knowing that „we loved her through it.‟
A MOTHER, A SURVIVOR, A FRIENDAlison’s Graduation 2012 My Graduation 2010
RISK FACTORS Internal Risks Internal risk factors of breast cancer are not within an individual‟s control. They are genetic and hormonal. There are two known breast cancer genes - BRCA 1 and BRCA 2. BRCA 1 is only found in women but BRCA 2 can be found in both men and women. The cancer genes are passed from generation to generation. These families normally have a higher incidence of breast cancer and it usually occurs at a young age and in both breasts. If a mother or a father carry the gene then their daughter has a 50% chance of having the cancer gene also. However, this does notmean the daughter will definitely develop breast cancer. Genetic testing for the BRCA genes have been developed and have helped many take control over their health. We know that hormones are a big internal factor in the development of breast cancer because breast cancer is so common in women and rare in men. A woman‟s breasts go through changes that a man‟s breasts do not. Women‟s breasts are particularly sensitive to carcinogens during the time between puberty and their first pregnancy. Studies show that a woman is at a higher risk of breast cancer, thelonger she is able to reproduce. If a she menstruates for more than 40 years, her risk is definitely greater. However, pregnancy and breastfeeding actually seem to reduce the risk of breast cancer. Pregnancy hormones mature the breast tissue but to be beneficial the pregnancy must be full-term. Breastfeeding for at least 1.5 to 2 years suppresses ovulation and reduces one‟s risk.
RISK FACTORS External Risks External or environmental risks are factors that can cause a cancer-causing mutation. Luckily, we do have some control over these factors. Our diet may have an effect on breast cancer risk. Foods high in fat have been thought to increase cancer risk for many years. Forinstance, breast cancer is less evident in Asian countries where they eat less fat. Fat cells make estrogen and an oversupply of estrogen isbelieved to increase a person‟s risk for breast cancer. In contrast, a diet high in fiber and antioxidants is considered to ward off breast cancer. Another theory is that it isn‟t the type of food one eats, but the chemicals, pesticides and hormones in our food that are the problem. Another factor to consider is how much alcohol one consumes. It appears that even small amounts of alcohol may increase one‟s risk. Countries such as, France and Italy, where wine is consumed regularly have higher occurrences of breast cancer than in the United States.
RISK FACTORS External Risks Hormone medications have also been linked to breast cancer. These include birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy and fertility drugs. The total number ofmonths of use is the key to risk. The longer the use, the higher the risk. Women on external hormones for more than ten years have the highest risk. Studies have shown that breast cancer cells in a lab do not grow well without hormones being added to them. A known risk of breast cancer is radiation. Studies have shown thatexposure to radiation, especially at a young age, increases one‟s risk. Unfortunately, radiation therapy is used to fight other life-threatening diseases such as Hodgkin„s disease. The benefits have to be weighed against the risks. Many years ago, the risks of radiation was not well understood and patients were exposed more often. Patients with tuberculosis and scoliosis were exposed through numerous x-rays. Benign illness, such as, postpartum mastitis, an enlarged thymus gland and chest acne were previously treated with direct radiation therapy to the breast and chest. Pesticides have also been thought to increase an individual‟s risk for breast cancer. DDT and PCBs, although not used legally anymore, have contaminated the environment. Evidence of these have been found in wildlife, human tissue, milk,waterways and the soil. One medical study compared the breast fat tissue of women with breast cancer and those without. The fat tissue with breast cancer showed considerable higher levels of these pesticides. It is believed that once DDT andPCBs enter the human body, they are broken down into weak forms of estrogen and cause breast cancer just as normally produced estrogen can.
FIGHT LIKE A GIRLBecause of my Mom’s experience my sister has chosen to go to school to become a nurse. My Mom also returned to school, they each are currently licensed CNA’s.
FIGHT YOUR FIGHT, GET INFORMED My mother has inspired me to never give up a fight. She is by far thebravest person I know. I look up to her and couldn‟t imagine life without her. I am so thankful for the time I have had with her and look forward to thefuture with her. I am lucky enough to share the future with my mother. She is a proud cancer survivor and I love her for it, she is my hero. As a survivor she has volunteered to take part in studies to help research the risks and causes of breast cancer. She stresses the importance of regular checkups and self-breast exams. My Mom has increased my own awareness of my personal risks of having breast cancer and she has also shown me to never fear it. Most everyone has a friend or family member who has beenaffected by some form of Cancer. If you don‟t already know of someone, sit tight you will. I encourage everyone to take part in a community event thatcreates awareness, such as Relay for Life or Susan G. Kolmen‟s Fight for a Cure. Also women and men should take steps to become aware of their own risks. There is always something that can be done to help spread the word!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Hi my name is Ashley Dutton. I am a Junior at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte studying to become an Elementary School Teacher. My mom was diagnosed with Breast Cancer when I was 12 years old. This really impacted my life at a young age. I remember staying awake at night worrying about what would happen if my mom died. My purpose for my project is to create awareness and reflect on a influential event from my childhood. My intended audience is my Mom and close family. I also would like to share my story to generate social awareness on the risk factors of Breast Cancer.