When You’re Left Behind: The Impact Of Breast Cancer On A Family

Breast-Cancer-Ribbon

October. Fall arrives, the kids are excitedly picking out their Halloween costumes and football season is in full swing.  But there is also a certain sadness and emptiness that I really feel during the month of October. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.  It is also the month that our first episode of the Supernanny aired – right after Nana died from breast cancer. October 12th was her birthday.

This year on the 12th, we talked about how it was her birthday and I did a great job of trying to stay busy in order to push away the memories of how we had spent all those years celebrating with her. The kids have been talking so much more about her, because her birthday will always bring up memories for all of us. I should know better than to think if I didn’t talk about it, the pain wouldn’t be there.

Tonight was a typical night of coming home from work, racing to feed the kids dinner, getting homework done, picking up my son from football practice, getting across town for my daughter’s volleyball game, finishing homework, getting everyone showered and doing all the other things that come with having children.  Then I stopped and took a breath while we were sitting at a red light.

My son Finn said something about Nana.  Suddenly, the stories came pouring out.  Laughter at the things she would say, touching moments of the kids sharing their memories of climbing on the bed with her when she was too sick to get up and just lying there with her.  This amazing woman brought so much joy and laughter to all of us and when I think about how these children were so involved in her care and final days I become speechless.

I have so much anger at the disease that took her from us.  My kids seem to look at the loss very differently.  I have an eight-year-old who is determined to find a cure.  I have a six-year-old who will happily wear a pink shirt and spray his hair hot pink this weekend while he walks a mile to raise money so no one else loses their Nana.  My older ones are inspired to make a difference and seem to have found a way to make something good come out of her death.  They are teenagers and they are spearheading walks and fundraisers at their schools.  Funny, how they might be young – but they lead me at times.

October. A month of changes in the colors of the leaves and in our hearts.

On Sunday, I will walk with my children in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk.  The first year after Nana died, we cut the ribbon to start the walk.  On the show, you see me carrying one of the kids on my shoulders and talking about how we will get through it one step at a time.  I remember filming that and trying to believe what I was saying. Three years later I can honestly say this: We suffered a huge loss from breast cancer but we have not stopped fighting nor finding our strength from each other.

I lost Nana to this disease.  I have friends battling the disease.  My children have friends whose mothers have died from this disease.  One out of eight women will get breast cancer.  It is enough.  I will not let my sadness keep me from talking about her or breast cancer.  Instead I am going to fight and use my voice until there is a time when my children can tell stories to their children about how there USED to be a disease called breast cancer…but how we beat it.

Visit Susan G. Komen for the Cure to learn how you can support the fight against breast cancer.

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