On a Mission to Fight Breast Cancer
Written by Jen Hunt
Eight years ago, I arrived at my mom’s house for some reason or another. She wasn’t home, but her boyfriend was. I causally asked what they had planned for the weekend, and he said, “We’re probably going to lay low. Your mom is stressed about the results of her breast MRI.” Come again? What breast MRI? The woman who was closest to me hadn’t said a word. He explained that there was a lump that WAS NOT DETECTED by mammogram, so they had done an MRI. (Side note: her mammogram nine months before was normal).
When I talked to her, I was angry, but she explained she didn’t want to worry me. When she needed to have a biopsy, she asked me to take her. I was knee deep in the middle of nursing school, but THIS was my priority.
The day of the results, I remember studying for an exam with my study partner, and when we concluded, saying, “I’m going to go to my mom’s to find out she has cancer.” I knew it because she hadn’t called me with the results. I was right. She was eventually diagnosed with stage 3 metastatic breast cancer with metastasis to the lymph nodes.
Breast Cancer is Not a Respector of Persons
My mom was the strongest and toughest person I knew. Cancer picked the wrong person. She was going to kill it. Wrong.
The next four years were a whirlwind of horrible experiences: mastectomy, chemo toxicity, radiation burns, endless infusions and injections, lymphadema, blood clots, small strokes, vomiting, hair loss, endless scans and trips to doctors, depression and anxiety, pills and more pills, pain and exhaustion.
As devastating as that was, here are the things you don’t hear about or see that are equally devastating: My mom was in a high power nursing position. She lost her job. My mom owned a beautiful home on two acres. She lost her house. My mom drove a Jaguar. She lost her car. My mom’s boyfriend left her. That strong and high powered woman had her body mangled and tormented and all the material things she’d spent her life working toward taken away.
Despite the most aggressive treatment, the cancer spread. It spread and it spread and it spread. It spread to her stomach and then to her eye and then to her bones. She was given two to three years to live. You think that when you’re told that, you go and live life to the fullest, but when you can’t eat what you want, when you can’t see properly, and when you can barely walk, that makes that impossible.
Meanwhile, she moved in with my husband and me. The day after our honeymoon. I had a new house, a new marriage and was working as an ICU nurse while taking care of her.
The cancer continued to spread, and I can’t even remember all of the organs it chose. When it finally chose her brain, we spent two weeks in the hospital and then ten days at a Hospice House. We went home for eight days, and I can’t go into the horror that unfolded there. Finally, she spent two nights in another Hospice House where she died the most horrific death I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen quite a few). She never stopped fighting.
I now suffer from major depressive disorder, PTSD, OCD and severe anxiety. I am on permanent disability. I fight everyday in the same way my mom taught me to do so.
This is what breast cancer did to my mom, my family, and myself. This is what it could do to you, your mom, your grandma, your aunt, your cousin, your sister, your friend, your wife or your daughter. The research needed to stop that from happening, and the support for the women who are currently fighting, depends on your help. Please donate to this cause. Any amount.
Thank you for hearing our story, and thank you for your support in changing the story for others. You can donate directly HERE!