Happy Birthday Mama (Breast Cancer Awareness)

24 Oct

October is always the hardest time of the year for me. It’s Breast Cancer Awareness month, my mothers birthday and also the month she died from breast cancer.

I haven’t written anything all this month because quite frankly, I knew I had to write something about my mom, the importance of breast screening and early detection and care . 14 years later and it’s still hard for me to talk about it. I miss her smile, I’m saddened by the memories we’ll never get to share, the victories we didn’t get to celebrate and the days when despite everyone’s best efforts nothing and no one can comfort me like I know my mom would.

Here are some key statistics care of cancer.org:

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, except for skin cancers. About 1 in 8 (12%) women in the US will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime.

The American Cancer Society’s estimates for breast cancer in the United States for 2013 are:

  • About 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.
  • About 64,640 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer).
  • About 39,620 women will die from breast cancer

My mom had a single mastectomy and reconstructive surgery after her first diagnosis.  Her second diagnosis the cancer had already begun to spread. I wish she had gotten a double mastectomy, I wish the cancer never came back. I wish we found out sooner. I wish there were better treatments. I wish there was a cure. But most importantly, I wish before she died that I didn’t pick fights with here because I was so scared to lose her.  I wish I had asked her questions about my dad or what I was like as a kid or how she dealt with a broken heart or her recipe for gumbo.

It’s too late for my “I wishes”. But I hope that this message reaches someone that its NOT to late for. Get screened. Get treated. Encourage your friends and family to do the same. Be supportive to those who are fighting or are dealing with the incredible loss of someone who didn’t win their fight. Don’t let my mothers battle and that of so many others go in vain.

*Here is a letter that I wrote to my mom two years ago on her birthday. *

Dear Mama,

Octobers are always particularly difficult for me. You’d think that I’d have made a mental note to be on watch when October rears its ugly head. But I don’t. And every year, the story reads the same. Just as the temperatures began to dip, the tree leafs are painted bright orange and red and the memories of summer are still vivid enough to keep me smiling on a chilly autumn morning, October shows up. And with it, it’s like the 11-month mask of emotion I’ve been wearing is ripped off like a bandage and emotions long since locked up and hibernating from the previous year come roaring back to greet me. Or destroy me. What the fuck October? Do you have nothing better to do?

I wonder if you recall the relevance of this month. It’s been so long since you’ve seen an October. I wonder if you are frozen in time, patiently waiting at the gates of heaven to greet family and friends.  Or do you watch over me and your other children, choosing instead to remain earth bound until you’re sure we can live without your motherly love and protection?

I wonder if you remember the last birthday we spent together. I do. I remember being in labor with your grandson, my first child. I remember hearing our families voices wafting into the labor and delivery room over my groans and other unintelligible sounds as they sang happy birthday and celebrated what was left of your short life. You didn’t leave my side the entire time. I sometimes play back that day in my head, keeping you frozen in time. You were so happy that day. I wonder if you knew it would be the last birthday you saw. Did that make it more special for you?

Mama, the baby will be a teenager tomorrow and every year I look at him and think, I hope my mama is proud of what I’m doing with him. I hope you’re with me watching over me because sometimes I have no idea how I can be a mama without my mama. I know I never said this to you, but you did a fantastic job with your kids. I do understand now, as I see the fruits of my own parenting, what you meant when you said, “I did the best I could do.”

Octobers are hard Mama. I don’t allow myself the luxury to think of you much during the year. I think it’s how I cope with not having you around. But in October I have no choice. It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, your birthday and the anniversary of your death. It’s as if you’re telling me, don’t forget about me baby.

There are so many things I want to tell you, but you probably already know what they are. I’m graduating soon. I have you to thank for that. I already know you’re proud of me. You probably knew I’d do it before I did. I found a poem this summer that you wrote before you died. You said, “If I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my dream will make.” Well Mama, you don’t have to worry about your dreams.  They are wrapped up in mine and I promise that I will fulfill my destiny and your legacy before it’s all said and done. After all, isn’t that why you name me after you?

I can’t fully express how much I miss you.  Most days I don’t think I fully grasp it myself. But on this fall day, as the leaves are turning a bright shade of orange and red and the memories of summer are starting to fade, I remember you and no mama, I haven’t forgotten.  Happy Birthday Queen Kimmah Shah-Bey. I love you, I miss you and I honor you.

With love, your daughter,

Kimmah

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One Response to “Happy Birthday Mama (Breast Cancer Awareness)”

  1. TheHittList October 24, 2014 at 10:50 am #

    Reblogged this on The Hitt List and commented:

    I know its been a while since I post. There is a good reason for it and I’ll share more on that later. BUT today, I want to share this with you. https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10204295556620935&set=vb.1589365573&type=3&theater

    Check out this video on FB and support Breast Cancer Research!

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