Breast cancer awareness is not just for October.
Women get breast cancer 12 months out of the year. This is not something that we put away in a drawer for next October, like that pink ribbon sweatshirt you love so dearly. We should be pro-active in our support, awareness, and fight each and every day of the year.
Breast cancer has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. When I was small my own Mother had to fight the battle, my dear Grandmother, Rebecca Lorraine DeShon, passed away after an excruciating battle. Since then I have spoken about how horrible it is to friends and I have suggested that they perform self exams and get regular mammograms. I have clicked numerous links, posted for supporters, organizations and the like all over the internet. I like you have donated cash, supported a runner, gave my cash donation for the ribbon at the grocery store and purchased the cleaning items to have a small donation sent to support the numerous foundations who spread awareness and support research.
Don’t get me wrong, I am still a supporter and will ALWAYS buy those things and donate my cash, that is not where this is leading. As I grow older the situation hits home even further when I meet survivors and people battling it every day. It was not until I had a very close hoop dance student of mine go through treatment for breast cancer and come to me with great urgency to have MYSELF checked that it really did hit HOME. What a survivor this woman is! After all she has been through to come to ME and tell me she wants me to take care of myself and be aware of how serious the situation is. WOW! That really hit me right between the eyes! All this time of thinking I was “aware” and spreading awareness, I had forgotten to check MYSELF. This may seem like common sense to most of you, however I am not the type to think of my own needs first. I like many, will spread the love far and wide and neglect my own concerns. Not anymore, thanks to the kindness of one woman, my student, Amanda Marie.
Amanda Marie began attending my hoop dance classes at Pera Dance Studio back in the Spring of 2010. She is a bright and witty kinda gal, big smiles all the time and a real “I can do it” attitude. Her wonderful husband, Cedric would watch along smiling and tapping his foot to the beat of the music with the great joy of seeing his wife so happy. Amanda and I became great friends and she attended my classes regularly. What a beautiful hooper she became! Until one day she missed a class and we communicated through email after to check in and catch up . She stated that she was having minor medical procedures and would be back as soon as possible. All the while checking in to be sure I was doing well and happy (What an angel). It wasn’t until weeks passed and I did not see her face that I received an email stating she had been missing class due to breast cancer and had had a double mastectomy. She stated that she would be receiving radiation and chemotherapy as well.
Her email hit me so profoundly in the heart! I am so grateful for her sharing her story with me. Amanda Marie also shared with me the joy that she had been making such an amazing recovery that her doctor had given her permission to begin gently waist only hooping as part of her recuperation! She also said that her doctors and care takers said since she was in such great shape (hooping with me & practicing on her own) when she was treated that is part of why she is recovering so nicely. What an incredible story and inspiration! I have since been conducting self breast exams and have scheduled a doctors appointment to have these things checked out FOR MYSELF, especially since my family history is scattered with cancers on both sides. I love you Amanda Marie! We are going to have the biggest hoop dance celebration just as soon as you feel well enough. You are an incredible inspiration to me and my friends everywhere. You are such a warrior. I am honored to have you call me your “teacher” and even more blessed to call you “friend”.
Breast Cancer is a disease that can hit you even at an early age. I urge all of you to take charge of your own life, never think something could not happen to you. No one plans to get sick, no one deserves to be ill and you have little control over your genes. Get tested! Be aware for yourself AND others. Keep supporting, promoting, donating and clicking the links. But most of all be smart. Save yourself. Be good to yourself, you are the only one you can count on in the end.
I have taken some facts from the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. as to why it is so important to have an “Early Detection Plan“.
“The best way to fight breast cancer is to have a plan that helps you detect the disease in its early stages. According to the National Cancer Institute:
- Nearly 200,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.
- 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime.
- Over 30% of women are diagnosed after breast cancer has spread beyond the localized stage.
- When breast cancer is detected early (localized stage), the 5-year survival rate is 98%.” – National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.
Interested in showing support here in Atlanta for breast cancer awareness? GREAT! Check out this great organization – The Boot Scootin’ Boo Bees. They work hard to raise money for breast cancer, here at home. The money donated to The Atlanta 2 Day Walk for Breast Cancer will help raise support and awareness for dozens of local organizations within the Atlanta breast cancer community. All the money raised through these efforts stays right here in Atlanta. Check them out on Facebook
For a taste of something different, I would also love to introduce to you the “Pink Ribbon Pin Ups”. That’s right, something for women AND men to show their support! A collection of prints of gorgeous photography of pin ups, all sporting a pink ribbon in support of the Boot Scootin’ Boo Bees for Atlanta 2 Day Breast Cancer Walk. Featuring the performers of Big City Burlesque and Vaudeville with the talented Dim Horizon Studios behind the lens. Check out the gallery of prints that are currently available for purchase in support of this great cause. These make wonderful holiday gifts as well! Get a gift AND show your support, that is a big WIN in my book. Who wouldn’t love such an amazing gift?
A big thanks to my amazing costumer and wonderful friend, Pinky Shear for showing me the above listed charities. Her hard work in spreading awareness and love through the Atlanta community helped me become more aware as well. She is one of my favorite Big City Burlesque & Vaudeville girls and is also a Pink Ribbon Pin Up and has shown me so many things. Her encouragement and faith in what I had to say is why I am publishing this blog today. Please take a moment to remember her dear friend, rest her beloved soul, Jessica Nicole Patterson. This incredible mother of two was diagnosed with breast cancer at the tender age of 27 years old. She fought a long battle. I dedicate this blog in her loving memory as well as my Grandmother, Rebecca Lorraine DeShon, and any other women who have lost their lives. May your soul be blessed and the memory of your life last forever.
I shout at the top of my lungs “hallelujah” to all of the survivors and dedicate this blog to you as well! You are what inspire me to be a better human. Much love to you for fighting the fight. May each day prove to find you stronger, happier and healthier. Thank you.
Please take a moment to give yourself a self breast exam.