A Momologue by Jackie: Appreciating true holiday blessings
When I was three years old, my mother died of breast cancer, leaving a loving husband and 11 children behind. That event has shaped who I am and not a day goes by that I don't think of her.
Two years ago—when my second baby was just weeks old—I discovered that I share a gene with my mother—the one that I was told gives me an 87% chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer in my lifetime. It's also the one that is said to be linked to generally aggressive cancers that have a poor prognosis. Did I freak out? Hell, yeah.
But then I got busy. I found a supportive website, Facing Our Risk - which was hugely instrumental in helping me do my research - scheduled an MRI and started looking into preventative surgery. When the MRI results came back, I was shocked, yet not surprised, to hear they had found a lump. Here I was 34 years old and facing breast cancer. I was given the option of having a lumpectomy/biopsy, or moving forward with a double mastectomy. Considering my odds, even if this wasn't cancer, that I had an almost 90% chance of eventually being diagnosed —I went for it. My boys were 21 months and 5 months old when I was wheeled into the operating room, terrified that I would never wake up.
When I did wake up groggy eight hours later, I was given the good news— no cancer! I was so happy and relieved to hear that, and then immediately panicked. "What did I just do? Did I just go through this for nothing?" Four days later, I got my answer. My surgeon informed me they had discovered pre-cancerous cells growing in the non-lump breast. I was between one and five years away from a breast cancer diagnosis—complete with chemotherapy and/or radiation. I quite possibly had just saved my life or at least for sure, the quality of my life.
My mother was a giving and loving human being who died from a disease without a chance to fight it. I was given that chance. This Christmas, as I look at my husband and kids, I know I am truly blessed. With all the craziness and anxiety that surrounds this time of the year, I live the true meaning of Christmas. I am happy, healthy, and in love with my family. That is my gift.
We want to celebrate your true holiday blessings. Comment below and tell us your story or one of your friend or family.