Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hooray for Boobies!

If your not aware, October is Breast Cancer awareness month.

Last year, my family was affected by breast cancer when my Uncle's sister was diagnosed and passed away suddenly from it in the Summer of 2008. It came as a shock to everyone who knew her. This past Mother's Day weekend, we walked in her honor at Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. My cousin KP wrote about this experience for her first college English paper. I should have probably asked if I could share this, but she would have probably said no, so I decided to share it anyway. Oh well...hopefully she won't be too mad at me, because it's worth sharing.

I did change the names since I didn't ask for permission.

Hooray For Boobies

It was highly unusual for me to get up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday morning, for my typical weekend routine usually included waking up around one p.m., but I knew that the memories from that day would be glued in my 18-year-old brain perpetually. Despite my never ending mental debate of whether or not to smack “snooze” on my Hello Kitty alarm clock, I instead slapped the dismiss button and unwillingly rolled out of my delightfully cozy bed. The unpleasant stench of burnt food clumsily danced around in my nose. “Mom must be experimenting again,” I thought to myself. I guessed I wouldn’t be having breakfast that morning after all.

“KP, hurry UP!” barked my older sister, like a drill sergeant, from our shared bathroom. She was the only one in the family who knew how to be punctual. I hurriedly brushed back the sleep from my eyes; kicked on my rubber soled Nikes, filled up my Nalgene, and joined my two sisters and cousin in the car.

Even though I was greatly opposed to it, my big sister insisted on blaring her obnoxious country lullabies in the car. It made the ride up to Atlanta seem to drag on for all of eternity. In fact I actually dozed off to sleep, perhaps from sheer boredom, or maybe it was from sitting so uncomfortably in the back seat of my sister’s tiny, blue, four-seater, VW Beetle. Either way, I was one exhausted adolescent that had no clue how greatly awakened my eyes would soon become.

“Hey stupid, wake up! We’re about to squeeze cousin K in here,” my rambunctious fifteen-year-old sister annoyingly yapped into my ear. She wasn’t always the most charming creature to be around at nine o’clock in the morning. As my older sister whipped the car around the corner, there stood my 23-year-old cousin K, dressed from head-to-toe in Pepto-Bismol pink, and standing with a banana and a Yoplait yogurt cup in her hand.

K unfortunately had just recently lost her mom, my Aunt T, to breast cancer only eight months before the journey we were embarking upon that day. Aunt T always spoiled me like a rotten egg. She would have sleepovers with me on Friday nights and cook me her special scrambled eggs on Saturday mornings. She would take me shopping for shoes and take me for rides in her “cool” convertible. She would even come gag back mystery meat with me at lunchtime in elementary school. Sadly enough though, all things must come to an end.

T was only 51 years old when everything in her life started to drastically take a turn for the worse. Her back had been oddly bothering her for quite some time, though she just shook it off as if it was nothing. Finally, after suffering through two months of pain, she decided it was time to head to the doctor. The news that she received after the appointment that day astounded everyone. According to the doctor, T had stage four inflammatory breast cancer. Without T being aware of it, the cancer had already taken hostage her bones and her brain, and was slowly slithering up to capture her spine too. She was immediately admitted to the hospital and lost her battle with cancer not even a full month later.

As I gloomily reminisced over the events that had taken place eight months earlier, I sluggishly pulled myself out of the car. I could hear a lady shouting over a microphone, “We are 15,000 strong!” You could tell from her nasally tone that she was from Boston.

Supporters were literally everywhere, lining the streets like a parade. Perhaps that parade would include appearances by Santa Claus, and even God himself. That might even be an understatement of how unbelievably crowded the sidewalks and streets were.

I could feel my naturally curly, chestnut brown hair frizzing up as the shotgun cracked to begin the race. The ferocious clouds looming overhead added to my cheerless mood. Passing by towering buildings and walking up winding roads, everyone around me was anxiously chattering about their stories. Every person had one. That I knew for sure.

Each participant that I passed by wore pink signs pinned to the back of his or her cotton t-shirt. “I walk in memory of,” or “I am a survivor.” Survivor? After seeing what my Aunt T had just uneasily suffered through, I knew for a fact that it had to be a rough time to go through. I had trouble dealing with regular obstacles in everyday life. I could only imagine dealing with all of that, and knowing that I had breast cancer. I could not fathom how all those affected by breast cancer in any way, shape, or form could be so joyful at such a sad event as this. Then it hit me. They didn’t take life for granted like I did. After all, I was an unappreciative teenager, according to my mother. They were just simply happy to be alive, happy to be celebrating and uniting together to fight the ugly demon of breast cancer. Life is way too short to not appreciate it. Why couldn’t I obtain the same optimistic outlook on life? The thoughts of everything whirled around in my brain like a sandstorm. It put me in a bit of a better mood; even though the puffy gray cotton balls in the sky were beginning to lightly sprinkle over the crowd.

Finally, the finish line was in sight. A rather rotund guy was standing on the side of the road flailing his arms around like an octopus, and holding a “Hooray for Boobies” sign. I could feel a slight grin spreading across my face as I snickered at the silliness of the situation, and the immaturity of myself.

As each survivor crossed the finish line, they each received a bouquet of a dozen pink roses and their “Susan G. Komen” Survivor t-shirt. The survivors all looked so happy, but yet half of them had tears pooled up in their eyes. They each had defeated such a huge battle in their lives.

$1.7 million dollars was raised for breast cancer that day, and millions of life-touching memories were made. Though it felt like a tough walk to go through mentally, I knew my Aunt T was there with me every step of the way. I just wish she could have been there to enjoy it just as much as I did.

I'm happy to report she got a 100 on the paper.


Jack said...

She certainly deserved a 100 on that paper. Great work!

Also on the subject of breast cancer awareness, I'd love you to check out this 30 sec video -- http://www.ahamoment.com/vote/leigh -- about the 'aha moment' of the woman who launched the Feel Your Boobies t-shirt campaign. If you like it, vote for it (with one simple click), as the top vote-getters will be used as aha moment TV commercials next year. And more exposure and awareness is always a good thing. Voting ends Oct 31, so click early and often.



Lyr said...

Love that picture!