18 years ago, my mom was diagnosed with and (successfully) treated for breast cancer. This experience inspired us both to become involved in breast cancer awareness.*
But now I have a new cause. This past year, my mom was diagnosed with colon cancer after a routine colonoscopy found a sessile polyp too large to remove. At first, the biopsy said it was benign, but after removing 12 inches of her colon, the second biopsy showed that indeed, it was cancer. Had she waited another 6 months to have her first colonoscopy (she had to postpone it for a year due to other health issues) that cancer would have spread and it could have been much, much worse.
No sooner did she get up and walking and back to work, but she also went for all her other routine yearly appointments. After 18 years of getting the “all clear” after her mammograms, she got a call saying she needed to come back in, something wasn’t right. Another mammogramÂ Â showed stage I ductal carcinoma hiding under calcifications from her previous lumptectomy. It was back. Since she’d had radiation during round one, it was not an option. She opted for a right mastectomy with tram flap reconstruction.
Thank God, she is doing well. She told every doctor and nurse she spoke with that I was graduating in June, that I was speaking, and that she HAD to be there for it. They worked their medical magic as quickly as possible, and she was there for graduation, for pinning, and threw me a party in between.
My point is, though, that each of these cancers crept up silently. They didn’t have symptoms, they didn’t come with warning signs. It was a routine colonoscopy and a routine mammogram that saved my mom’s life, twice in the span of three months. So now, we’re walking the Avon Walk again. We had a fundraiser and spoke with local church members, advocating the importance of routine check ups. I finally understood what public health nursing was about; I got the point of health promotion. When you realize that each member of the community is someone just like your mother, your friend, your self, it’s easy to want to teach them. You want to keep them from going through what you’ve been through. And you realize, as a nurse, that our job doesn’t end outside the hospital, but that we have to educate our community, for a safer, healthier future.
*Last year we walked in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer and really felt that we were making a difference for women everywhere.