2 aunts + cancer = 1 aunt
my personal experience with breast cancer
Breast Cancer Awareness month is a great way to raise awareness about a disease that is killing 113 people a day. All October, you can find statistics, survivor stories + pink ribbons everywhere you turn. Initially, I wanted to use this post to focus on the facts, but it quickly grew into something more. Although I will still post a few links below for you to see the details for yourself, I'm going to do something I rarely do - share my personal experience with breast cancer.
There are a lot of things that have generationally plagued the Black community, but one of the greatest curses deals with our health (mental and physical). For too long, our elders refused to discuss their conditions and even will decline seeking medical treatment for said conditions as if they're in a state of denial. Unfortunately, this has left many of us in the dark about our family medical history, and puts us at a disadvantage when trying to take care of ourselves… and this is where we'll begin.
Both of my parents are the youngest of their siblings. They both have 3 brothers and 3 sisters, and they both are highly competitive and… well… rather annoying. But something else they both have in common is that they each had a sister diagnosed with breast cancer, and this is where the differences begin.
My father's side of the family is full of strong willed, and at most times stubborn, people. My grandmother, at the peak of her Alzheimer's, insisted that she didn't need help regardless of how much you tried. My grandfather kept everyone laughing in high spirits, repeatedly stating that, “...nothing's wrong, I'll be out soon…” while dying in the hospital of prostate cancer. Not only is my father's side of the family riddled with stubbornness, they're riddled with illnesses. It has always been their practice to not talk discuss the details of their health issues and to NEVER show weakness. Generational curses that people refuse to break beget the continuation of curses. So it wasn't a surprise, knowing my family was prone to cancer, when my dad's sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. The shock was how far along she was.
Instead of going to the doctor when she noticed simple signs, instead of going to the doctor regularly, instead of checking herself and being proactive, she kept it to herself and prayed. Without going into the details of the stress this then caused in her life and emotional strain this put on the family, my aunt lost her battle with cancer and passed away.
Fast forward a few years, I received a call from my mom telling me how her sister had just been diagnosed as well. I must have wept for 15 minutes straight. “Not again,” I cried. My mother's family takes the total opposite approach when it comes to health matters. It was always stressed how important maintaining your health is. Doctor visits are regular with everyone on my mother's side and the discussion of our health is probably too fluid for the average family's comfort level. Want to know another thing my parents have in common; both families have a history of cancer. The difference is their approach. Because of the constant exchange of medical knowledge between everyone, and let's face it… the fact that we're possibly too involved in each other's lives, my mother's sister was able to catch it early. My aunt received the medical attention she needed and has been cancer free since!
These stories are not being told to incite sympathy or sorrow but rather to inform. I'm hoping my story helps others break the curses we place on ourselves, our families and our community. You cannot be so afraid of what you're going to find out when going to the doctor that you don't go at all. Death is far worse than ignorance, and your pride isn't worth death. Get checked regularly by a physician, check yourself or even have your significant other check for you (trust me, they'll enjoy it). Don't let something so common & so treatable be what takes you from this Earth.
You are beautiful, you are powerful, you are important & we need you girl 💁🏽♀💁🏽♀
For more information about what you can do to prevent breast cancer, help find a cure or just some general knowledge, visit the links below:️