You must understand that on my mother’s side, we stick together. Everybody knows everybody’s business and we make it our business to know everybody’s business. We could never let someone go through a difficult time alone.
As expected, Aunt Vivian lost her hair, which is much worse for a woman than for a man. We joked that she should just start wearing a hijab; she wouldn’t have to worry about her hair! We went wig shopping instead. Wigs seemed like something actors had to wear. They are supposed to be for a disguise, but many wigs go to cancer patients who are trying to disguise themselves as healthy people.
They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Let me tell you, we opened a lemonade stand. Since Aunt Vivian got sick, it seems our goal (and hers) was to do more things together. We have organized family outings, had more parties and dinners, hung out leisurely on Sundays to watch movies, and in general become so much closer as a result.
I suppose we’ve been doing these things to keep Aunt Vivian’s mind off of chemo, but I believe that inside we have other reasons. When cancer happens to someone so close to you and you can see his or her pain, you realize that your time on earth cannot be wasted. And the time you do have should be spent with the people you love.
All of the barbeques, bowling nights, baking and cooking competitions, game nights, all of these things have brought us closer together. It’s funny to say that cancer did that.
Aunt Vivian also realized how precious her life is. She spent most of it in New York in her home in the Bronx, raising my cousin and baking her delicious better-than-the-bakery cookies, but she developed a new side to her that we welcomed with open arms. She has to do it all. Aunt Vivian has been on more vacations in the past few years that she has been on in her entire life. She has vacationed to all types of places that boast warm weather and beautiful beaches, swum with dolphins, been on a helicopter ride, and danced a lot more. Through her illness came a clarity; life is just too short to stay inside!
My family and I were so glad that after her battle, the cancer went into remission, or seemed to have subsided. For about 5 years, Aunt Viv had continued living her new, happy life. Then last year, we got the news that the cancer came back and it seems worse than the last time. My cousins and I, still extremely close, are now going to take a stand against cancer. This time, it’s to help end cancer all together.
This Saturday, May 1st, we will be participating in the Revlon Run/Walk to fight womens’ cancers (breast, ovarian, cervical, skin, etc.). We will walk from Time Square to Central Park along with thousands of others who are currently battling cancer, walking in memory of someone who succumbed to cancer, or like us, walking in honor of a fighter.
YOU can help me end cancer. By donating to my personal fund raising page, you will help fund cancer research and also get medical care for underprivileged women with cancer. With all of our support, we can hope for fewer cancer stories.
HOW TO SPONSOR ME
1) Go to www.revlonrunwalk.com
2) Click “donate” on the right side of the screen
3) Click “sponsor a participant online”
4) Type in my name to find my profile
5) Make a donation!
FACTS ABOUT WOMENS’ CANCER
- What is womens’ cancer? Certain cancers that most affect women: breast, lung, colon, endometrial, ovarian, cervical, and skin.
- 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer (the most common womens’ cancer.)
- Early detection is the best defense. Young women should have their breasts examined at least every 3 years. Women over 40 should have an annual mammogram.
Warning Signs of Breast Cancer
Due to the increased use of mammography, most women are diagnosed at very early stages of breast cancer, before symptoms appear. However, not all breast cancer is found through mammography. The most common symptoms of breast cancer are a change in the look or feel of the breast, a change in the look or feel of the nipple and nipple discharge. These are listed below:
- Lump, hard knot or thickening
- Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening
- Change in the size or shape of the breast
- Dimpling or puckering of the skin
- Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
- Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast
- Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
- New pain in one spot that doesn’t go away
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