A personal view

Years ago, my mother had what my family generally calls “medical issues.”[cointent_lockedcontent] ben6-25 Page 4A.indd

We are a quiet, almost invisible family in the mountain area of Pickens County. So what medical ailment a person may have is considered “their own business.”

Then when that person finally has to give up, the issue becomes available for discussion. “She fought it as best she could, but it finally got her.”

A recent case of this was about 17 years ago, when my mother had breast cancer. My parents were rather silent about this to me. I knew my mother had health issues, but quite frankly I was too busy with my low-paying job to spend any time worrying about it.

My father had some health issues of his own during this time and had to spend some time in the hospital. To make things more complicated, my father was at Baptist Easley Hospital while my mother was at Greenville Memorial Hospital. So I was trying to put together not having time to visit them and take care of them with working too many hours for anybody to keep their sanity.

Of course I make it sound like I was doing most of the sacrificing, but I was healthy and blissfully ignorant. My main concern was not having a hot meal on Sundays (I ate at fast-food restaurants for all other meals). Looking back years later, I see just how brave my mother was.

She insisted on going through a stem cell transplant. I understand that this is common now, but it was rare then.

I remember my mother saying, “I want to make sure I do everything possible to get over this,” as she moved ahead with the treatment. I guess she was thinking that if she moved forward then it would be easier on her daughters, Rhonda and Cyndi, if they ever faced breast cancer.

Both have, by the way, and after dealing with their mother’s experience with the disease, both were more hopeful that breast cancer was not some kind of death warrant.

Cyndi smoked when she was younger, but just one time of her daughter Jessica saying “I can’t wait until I grow up so I can smoke like Mommy,” broke her of the habit. As far as I know, Jessica, now in her 20s, still does not smoke.

Cyndi’s bout with cancer was several years ago. She won despite some other health problems she has developed.

Rhonda’s cancer showed up just more than a year ago. It was not as extreme as Cyndi’s, but having experienced what my mother had been through, she agreed to chemotherapy in hopes of actually defeating the disease. And she’s winning, too.

So what is my contribution to this whole thing? To try to spread the word: Breast cancer is no longer a death sentence. With the help of the medical community we have around us, there’s hope anyone can fight this dreaded disease and win.