My mom has always been my biggest fan. She has always made me feel as if I was an all-star, capable of anything. Whenever I feel nervous about an upcoming race, unsure about a job interview, or pressure with school work, she is always the one saying, “You’ll do great. You’ll be just fine. You can do it.”
Mom taught me to be a strong woman, to never back down, and always speak my mind. She told me that I could do anything in life that I wanted to do. She always pushed me to shoot for the stars and aim high.
Mom would tirelessly drive me to all my summer softball tournaments up and down the East coast. I could hear her voice the loudest from the stands. “Come on 2-4! Hit me a dinger!” In high school before big games she would leave notes with softball cheers on them in my lunch. When me and Tyler were playing games at the same time, she would carry her American flag lawn chair from field to field, yelling and cheering for my brother and me as she trucked along between softball and baseball.
Mom never stopped cheering for me. From learning to walk to walking across the stage to receive my diploma from Mary Washington, my mom has always yelled the loudest and been the proudest.
Now it’s my turn to be the cheerleader. Tomorrow my mom will be having surgery to have both breasts removed.
She made this decision based on the fact that she is positive for the BRCA 1 gene mutation. My mom was born with a gene mutation that she inherited from her mother. The damaged gene puts her at higher risk for breast and ovarian cancer than most people.
Every woman is at risk for breast cancer and her risk increases with age. A woman in the general population faces about a 13% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. This risk remains low before age 50; the majority of risk occurs after age 60. Women with a BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 mutation have a much higher lifetime risk for breast cancer, and much of the risk occurs at a younger age.
Since her chances of getting cancer are so high, she has decided to have risk-reducing surgery. While this may seem extreme to some, if you knew you could dramatically decrease your chances of getting cancer by having surgery then it is not so crazy.
A few months ago she had her ovaries removed to greatly decrease the risk of ovarian cancer. Now it is time to tackle the breasts. Tomorrow she will be having a double mastectomy. This is the most effective way to reduce the risk of cancer and ensure that she will be healthy later on in life.
The doctor wants to take everything to be sure – skin, tissue, nipples. After this difficult surgery she will undergo lots of reconstruction and procedures to build her a brand new set of boobs.
This was not a difficult decision for my mom to make. She had to watch her mother die of breast and ovarian cancer. My mom did not want the same thing for us. She would rather have the surgery now, then have cancer down the road.
My mom is the bravest woman I know. It takes a strong woman to make the decision to remove her healthy breasts in order to prevent cancer. The bravery and determination she has shown leading up to her surgery has been amazing. I know she has to be scared, nervous, sad, but she remains positive.
That is one thing I admire most about my mom, her ability to see the silver lining in every situation. She believes everything happens for a reason. She is always upbeat. She is constantly supporting and cheering for my dad, brother, and me.
I’m ready to be my mom’s cheerleader, to smile, look at the bright side of things, and help her be strong through her recovery. I’m ready to yell the loudest, clap, and tell her, “You’ll do great. You’ll be just fine. You can do it.”
My family and I will have to be strong for my mom. I know she will be ok. We are a tight bunch. We have lots of love and support for our favorite cheerleader.