Statistics tell us 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. They also tell us early detection is key to long-term survival. That is why the Encouragement Squad is here. We remind you every month to do your breast self-checks and schedule your mammogram if it is time. We don't want you to be one of the statistics, but if you are we want you to catch it early and beat it!
Today our Encouragement Squad leader, Heather North, is here to share why she got involved with Calling All Sistahs and the encouragement challenge. She isn't (yet) one of the statistics, but has loved many who are. Read her story, see the reminder cards from our talented team, and then check yourself!
It's Heather here today and it's my priviledge to share with you why I joined the encouragament squad.
My story of "why" I joined the encouragement squad started long before I ever met Michele Gross and even before she started the Calling All Sistahs movement. It began the day my mom dropped me off at grandma's before work. I was sick that morning, so mom took me over early, before grandma was even dressed. She was in her nightgown and one of her breast was missing. Grandma explained that she hadn't put her prosthesis on yet. She also told me she had her breast removed because she had cancer.
Fast forward to my engagement. Shortly after I announced I was going to get married my aunt announced she had breast cancer. She fought hard and wore a wig to my wedding. While she was off work having treatments she helped put together some of my decorations for my wedding because she wanted to be involved. She helped decorate the church with a scarf around her head. She fought and she won, until cancer came back in another area of her body and it won this time. I lost her in Jan 2008.
Last year my other aunt on my dad's side passed away from cancer that had metastasized. She had survived breast cancer, cervical cancer and in the end died of lung cancer that had spread. Cancer is such an ugly way to die.
I've had several friends who fought breast cancer. I even had a male friend find a lump in his breast tissue and found out that men unfortunately can get breast cancer too. Though it is rare. Those who caught it early and continued to get checked had a much higher survival rate. One friend lived 8 years with advanced cancer, but lost her fight a year ago last summer.
At least one of my cousins has fought breast cancer and 2 have tested positive for the BRCA gene. THAT is why I joined Calling All Sistahs. For my cousins and I it is more a matter of "when" than "if" we will have breast cancer in our lifetimes. Talking about breast cancer and self-exams was EXTREMELY embarrassing to me, but it has been worth overcoming that embarrassment to possibly SAVE their (and my) lives!
I met Michele shortly after she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. I was shocked at how little I knew about breast cancer treatments and procedures, especially considering how many women in my family had battled it. We NEVER talked about it in my family, other than to say someone had it. She talked about the Buddy Check on her local news station and I agreed with her that we all needed to have that monthly reminder. When she asked me to be a part of the Calling All Sistahs team, I immediately jumped on board. It has become easier to share about as I have heard YOUR stories of finding cancer early, of surviving and even of your hopes, doubts and fears.
Bringing encouragement to others is just part of who I am. I am lucky enough to have friends let me know all that time that I encourage them. So, when Michele added the monthly encouragement challenge I knew it would be a good fit for me. I just need to SEND more of these cards I am making each month.
When Michele started the Calling All Sistahs blog hop, and asked if I would be the coordinator, I was honored to be a part! When she decided to start a blog dedicated to the Calling All Sistahs mission and add in an Encouragement Challenge so more people could join I was thrilled. When she asked me to continue to be the Encouragement Squad leader, I was tickled pink to work with our incredibly talented team. I've also joined in a local grassroots campaign to help raise funds for breast cancer awareness, treatment and research. You can read more about that in my blog post today. My hope and prayer is that we can find a cure so that nobody needs to battle this awful disease again. Until we do, your sistahs have got your back and we bring you encouragement and reminders every month. You are not alone in this lonely battle.
Come back tomorrow to join us for a new Encouragement Challenge!