Dealing With the Loss of My Grandmother and the "Holes" Left By Breast Cancer
On March 8th of last year, my grandmother died of breast cancer. She was 90 years old, but it was her over 10-year battle with breast cancer that ended her life.
At the funeral, my sister Katrina sang a beautiful song. I read a poem that my grandmother wanted read. And my brother Jeffrey emotionally shared his memories.
But try as we might with songs and poems and words and flowers and scriptures and weeping and rocking and grieving, we could and can not fill the void left by my grandmother's passing.
And this is what breast cancer is to me. Holes. Gaping holes in the lives--adults, children and even the unborn, where a vibrant and critical person once stood and flourished.
Every year breast cancer leaves on average 425,000 holes.
There are holes in our communities when children grow up without their mother, families lose their matriarchs, and husbands lose their wives.
Holes in our understanding of how breast cancer happens and why black women get it younger and in a more aggressive form and why we have the highest mortality rate even though we have a lower incidence rate.
Holes in our speech when we don't talk about breast cancer enough. And holes in our sense of humanity when we don't do all we can to support more research and broader treatment options.
Yes, breast cancer is about holes. And breast cancer awareness is about filling those holes. Filling those holes of knowledge, filling those holes of negative perception, filling those holes of confusing misinformation that keep many women from getting the early treatment they need.
But most importantly, it is about filling the holes in hearts. Hearts like mine that still ache for my Naelen (Nay-elen short for Nana Helen) and her jokes, and her strength, and the way she put a slice of onion on every salad.
It is about making sure there are fewer holes--fewer daughters, mothers, wives, aunties, nieces and cousins lost to breast cancer. And more survivors sharing their story.
What does breast cancer mean to you?
**Lifetime Moms is partnering with the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation and their Army of Women initiative to help accomplish their goal of eradicating breast cancer. Join the Army today and become part of an online database to receive research updates and volunteer opportunities. It's simple and free. Learn more >>