This October, I would like to remind every woman to please schedule yourself a mammogram. If you're over the age of forty it may be time to get a baseline done or earlier if you have any family history of breast cancer. Consult with your family doctor about when he/she feels you should start getting your mammograms. Men, you are not excluded from this cancer either.
This year I lost my sister-in-law Liz to breast cancer. Liz had been a breast cancer survivor for about fifteen years. Here is a little of her story.
In 2012, the doctors told her the cancer was back for a third time and it had moved into her liver, bones and brain.
Once again she stepped up to the plate ready to fight, but this time it was way too much for her, so she went with quality of life as she didn't want to be out of it or sick from all the chemo treatments. She wanted to spend as much time with her family and friends as she could and be as pain free as she could.
I was so very blessed to be able to help take care of her until she finally had to go into a hospice facility in Pittsburgh PA. My ability to help Liz was only made possible because I work for a family-first law firm. Understanding and support are not strong enough words for what Bordas & Bordas did for me and my family during our difficult time taking care of Liz.
Liz passed away this May of 2013. We also lost her husband (my best buddy) Augie to bladder cancer in February of 2013. Two loved ones in three months is just very hard for one family to handle. But we did it and we are closer and stronger than ever.
One thing Liz never wanted to die from was breast cancer. She asked me if she did pass away from breast cancer to please tell everyone how important getting a mammogram each and every year is. Liz fought back again against breast cancer about five years after she was diagnosed the first time and I remember getting the call from her telling me she wasn't sure if she was going to do radiation or chemo. She was really feeling sad, alone and sorry for herself, (which she had every right to be feeling) but me being me, I told her to stop it, that she needed to stand up and fight, cancer was not going to win this round, and if she wanted to feel sorry for herself I would throw her a big pity party after she had gone through treatment and she was strong enough to tell her story of how I told her to stand up and fight like a girl, and how I wouldn't let her sit down and feel sorry for herself. Liz told me I was the only one in the world she knew who would tell her to stop it and to do something about it and that I was one of the reasons she took treatment that time. Liz also told me that she felt I was the strong one in this battle and I had faith in God, something that she was so desperately trying to hang on to but was slowly losing, and that I made her understand that God has a plan for everyone. Liz told me I helped pull her back from a very dark time in her life. Trust me, she was never alone or lost her faith in God, she only thought she was. God was her light in that dark place, she just didn't know it at the time.
Liz took every precaution to keep herself checked and cancer free, used preventative medications and took exercise classes for breast cancer saviors. You name it, Liz did, took it, or Liz researched it. Liz always said you have to be your own best advocate to fight any and every type of cancer. But sometimes the cancer will take you no matter what you do to stop it. No truer words had been spoken. It's still hard for me to think she's not there when I have something I need to have more than two opinions on, now it's just down to myself and my oldest sister Diane, as our third opinion is gone.
Liz and I were very close for being sister-in-laws, she and I would never say that we were in-laws, only sisters. It was funny to see people's faces when she would tell them that I married her brother. You could see them thinking, "What?" We both would laugh and walk away. That's what kind of relationship I had with her. I was so blessed to have a friend and a sister in Liz. Liz made me a better person and she helped me understand things that I never knew in my lifetime would need to know or understand.
God only takes the best ones back first and I truly believe that she was taken away from us way too early, but what she left behind for all of us was the meaning of what true love is: God and family.
Please show your support this month for Breast Cancer Awareness by wearing pink. It's the best tribute you can show someone who is a survivor or for those who lost the battle with breast cancer. Please also consider supporting the 8th Annual Driving Fore A Cure Golf Classic. This year's event will be held at Oglebay Park on Friday, October 11, 2013.
Liz, I'm writing a very small part of your story for others to read and understand that they are not alone when it comes to breast cancer. You are and will always be my Hero! You gave me the greatest gift anyone could ever give to another person: unconditional friendship, love, support and you never asked for anything in return. You and my beautiful sister, Diane, are the two that made me who I am to this day. Thank you. I love you and miss you, Liz!