I was challenged to do the “no make-up selfie” by my sweet friend Leanne McElrath today. Well, I love the idea of raising awareness for breast cancer, but I wanted to take it a step further.
I’d like to start by saying that to me, the face of breast cancer was always a stranger’s face. That is until 2008, when the face of breast cancer for me became this face:
and by association, these faces:
That is my sister-in-law, Jamie. At 38, she was diagnosed. With two little boys and a grown up one (her husband), the cancer diagnosis turned her world upside down. After a lumpectomy, she had radiation, chemo and participated in an additional chemotherapy clinical trial. The treatments made her very ill. Her nails turned brown and gnarly, her eyebrows and eyelashes fell out. She temporarily lost her (great) hair, a lot of her dignity and on many days her sense of humor (also great). What she didn’t lose was her faith. I know she would tell you that it was the prayers of so many (and mashed potatoes) that helped her muddle through the day-to-day awfulness.
She chose to participate in the clinical trial even though she wasn’t guaranteed to actually receive the trial medication; it was possible she could receive the placebo. Afterward she learned that she did indeed get the powerful drug, which lessens the chance for any cancer recurrence. She's been cancer free for 6 years!
Here’s how I’d like to raise breast cancer awareness.
Step 1: (And this is the most important step!) Pray for someone who has breast cancer and do it daily. Add them to your prayer journal. If you don’t know someone personally, ask your friends. They’ll know someone. If they don’t, I have a friend who was just diagnosed you can pray for. Pray for “Lori’s friend” (God will know who you’re talking about) or private message me to find out her name. Pray for your person's family, her husband and children, her mother and her friends.
Step 2: Get involved-either with your wallet or your time or both! Do something. If you’re able and feel led, donate to your favorite breast cancer research organization. Here are a couple of links.
On The Susan G. Komen website you can donate as little as $5 online. The home page of the website has plenty of other active ways to get involved.
Want something a little closer to home? In Marshall County, the Foundation for Marshall Medical Centers raises money throughout the year with programs like the Pink Pumpkin Run to fund mammograms for women who couldn’t otherwise afford them. Click the link to find out how to help.
If you have a friend going through this and she's having a tough time with treatment, take her a meal, pick up some dirty laundry and deliver it back washed and folded (if you’re really good friends with her, put it away).
Lastly, never discount the power of your words. Call, message, send a note through the mail. Encourage someone, even if it’s a someone you don’t know well, someone whose name you got from a friend. If you want to do something, let them know you’re praying for them, that you're thinking of them, that you care.