Shall we call it Pinktober? You might debate that yes, yes, we are well aware of breast cancer and the risks. Whether we have fought it ourselves or watched a mother, sister, aunt, friend or coworker struggle, this modern world knows about breast cancer. But did you realize that hundreds of thousands of people will lose the fight against breast cancer this year – women & men alike? That’s a shocking statistic. It’s even more tragic when we remember that not one of those people is just a number. Each and every one is somebody’s loved one, mother, sister, friend, confidant and each one will be desperately missed by survivors who wish we were all a little more aware of breast cancer signs – aware enough to find a cure.
NorthDelaWHEREHappening.com is charged with raising extreme awareness by spotlighting the stories of some of those very near and dear to our hearts who have passed from breast cancer. These are everyday people who were eventually defeated by breast cancer – not without a diligent fight mind you – these are people who could be your relatives, friends, neighbors or former classmates. These stories are very personal and by no means were easy to share. This is powerful and meant to be empowering, making each of us remember that this disease touches each of us – some quickly and some not so. This month, as Breast Cancer Awareness Month peaks, we honor and remember some of our local heros and most courageous fighters. Those who lived every moment of their Dash to the absolute very fullest – making us want to fight even harder to FIND A CURE!
It is our mission at NorthDelaWHEREHappening.com, that you will read these personal stories and make a difference in the fight against Breast Cancer – for you, your children and others – STAND UP TO BREAST CANCER, NORTH DELAWARE!
IN HONOR, CELEBRATION & REMEMBRANCE
Grandma of Inspiration | By: Jake Erney
We all have people in our lives that completely change the way we envision the world, or life. My grandmother was one of those remarkable people. Her name was Maria Bennett, “Mommie Ama” in my case, and she battled cancer for nearly fifteen(15) years. Her breast cancer was first detected in 1997, the year I was born. The tumor was nearly the size of a pea in her left breast. She endured a lumpectomy and then radiation. On my first birthday, she was finished with her last radiation. The scare and the worry that was stressed through my family was relived and all was good. We could go to the park, she would be able to swing my little body into the clouds and run with me back to the car to get some lunch – she loved to eat. Nine years later, note I have a little sister now at this point in time, we received the horrific phone call. A Radiologist was going over her mammogram and found a lump. Devastating. Then she had to have a mastectomy to remove her left breast. Following that, she went through several series of chemotherapy over a year.
In 2008, she was complaining about pain in her back, unbearable pain. This was her body warning her something was wrong. Doctors investigated and found that one of the breast cancer cells had “escaped” during the mastectomy and now drifted into her spine. This called for some major back surgery, removing T2 and T3, which was both full of cancer. This was the start of endless amounts of chemotherapy and we could only encourage her to keep going, stay happy, and live her life to the fullest.
My grandma was as fragile as china. Looking at her however, you would have never guessed she was ill. She was hilarious, vibrant and so strong. We would talk constantly and catch each other up on life, and what was new in the world. When we would visit her, we would sometimes find her drinking mojitos with her neighbors on their porch. It was good for a while. She would continue her chemo, some days would be better then others and some days, she said she felt new. But what goes up, must come down. Last summer (2012), things started to get worse and worse. At first, it was week after week, then day after day, then hour after hour, then minutes on minutes… all the way down to the last second. It was like sand going through a sieve… the last time I saw her, she was unable to talk, but she smiled when I saw her and said hello. On June 20, 2012, the cancer beat her. It may have taken her life, but reflecting on how long she lived in such horrible conditions…she saw all of her grandchildren come into the world, and grow as much as she could. Maria Bennett was an outstanding woman who was loved by many. She was an inspiration and icon. Above all, she was the person who changed my life completely and changed the way I see life.
I Lost My BFF, My Sister| By: Monica Pammer
It will be 10 years this October that Lisa passed and it sounds so cliche’ but feels like yesterday. My entire family – parents, Lisa’s husband and my niece Emily, sister Kris, her husband with my niece, nephew and myself – there to watch Lisa’s son, Gregg, compete in the Junior Olympics in Las Vegas. Lisa could not travel because she had a “bad cold” that just kept getting worse to the point where she was having trouble breathing. Right then my heart sank, I knew something was terribly wrong when a healthy 39 year old woman had a cold that made her feel that bad she could not go see her son compete in the Junior Olympics.
It took a while to get the diagnosis. Long fluid biopsy pointing towards cancer but they couldn’t find where it was originating. Mammo and US-negative. Finally a breast MRI found a lump in her right armpit the size of a pea. Came back breast cancer. A PEA lump could be that bad…. Yes! That was June 2002. July 27, one day after she turned 40, she was diagnosed with stage 4 inflammatory breast cancer- right breast, with involvement to the lungs. They gave her 3 months to live. We were shocked and devastated to say the least. She had 2 kids 12 and 13. So young.
Lisa did not accept the “you have 3 months to live, go live it sentence” and neither did her MD. He got 3 separate opinions from 3 top cancer centers in the country and they all decided to be aggressive with treatment. Meanwhile, this was her MDs first case of breast cancer under age of 50! Treatment included chemo, radiation to shrink tumor, then a mastectomy, then more chemo, radiation then lung surgery, more chemo and radiation. The chemo and radiation continued up to a week before she died 16 months later. My mom, dad and I each took turns flying to California every week to take care of her and the kids. Helping Gregg, her husband, as he had to work through it all – afterall, they needed health insurance.
Lisa was stronger then any of us -fighting for her kids. She passed with a beautiful smile on her face with her kids, husband and my dad by her side. My mom and I didn’t make it out in time. Lisa continued to live every single day of those 16 months to the fullest. It broke our hearts watching her suffer at times from pain, or fatigue, or nausea, but she did it for her family, her kids. To say this rocked my families world is an understatement. No words can ever explain. To this day, my parents live the loss without their daughter and my niece and nephew without their mom. Throughout all of this, my family has supported each other and helped raise 2 kids with my brother-in law. Her son, Gregg, is the male version of Lisa. Looks just like her with a huge smile! Weirds us out sometimes! 🙂 She was not as lucky as most, being diagnosed with the most aggressive form of breast cancer with the lowest survival rate but over the past 10 years with all the research and fund raising, the odds have improved significantly.
I lost my BFF and my sister! Crazy the times – I still go to pick up the phone to call her and tell her something. We all have moved forward with our lives with Lisa still a part of our every day with her children and her memories. This is one of the weird breast cancer stories where early detection with a mammogram would not have helped as it did not detect. She did breast exams – how diligent I’ll never know – but she never felt a pea in her armpit. MRI was key but insurances still do not cover it. And questions does benefit of MRI outweigh the risk? Who knows!
Join NorthDelaWHEREHappening.com in remembering the lives and legacies of all affected by breast cancer, from women and men who have battled breast cancer, to family, friends and others who’ve worked to save lives, raise awareness, find a cure or eliminate causes of the disease.
We are walking in honor of some of the bravest women we know.
ACS Making Strides 5k Walk & Run in Wilmington on Sunday, Oct 21st.
Support the NDH Dash 4 the Cure Team – Donate today!