Here's a post I wrote exactly one year ago today for momlogic.com. I thought I would pull it out, seeing as I'm even more grateful this year.
I Am Not My Mother
Appreciating true holiday blessings. Written 12/20/07
When I was three years old, my mother died of breast cancer, leaving a loving husband and eleven 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, FacingOurRisk.org - 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.