The month of October stands for breast cancer month. During this period, many individuals wear a pink ribbon on their coat, dress, hat, bag, etc. which symbolizes awareness, sympathy, and support to families and friends who have lost or have a loved one with breast cancer. Have you lost a relative or friend because of the silent disease?
According to a statistical report by the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women and is the second cause of death after lung cancer for women in the United States of America. The report states that during 2012-2016 breast cancer increased slightly by 0.3% per year; however, the death rate has decreased.
Each woman’s body reacts differently to the disease; thus, for some women it develops fast and for others it is slow. In the case of Yojaira, my friend, who I lost 10 years ago to breast cancer, it was very fast. I remember her telling me about her diagnosis, years after she was gone. Her cancer was invasive and aggressive to her body and mind.
The news of her death was devastating. I remember when I got the phone call I was in the middle of documentary production, but at that moment everything shifted. I sat and cried. Hours later, I traveled to Managua (the capital) to be with her family and friends. I thought that I had cried during the flight so I wouldn’t cry anymore, but that was not the case, I continued for days and still today, I cry for her.
Months after Yojaira’s death I found out that another friend named Alesseter also had breast cancer. I remember that I didn’t want to listen to her explanation about the stage of the disease because I was in a state of refusing and denying. Therefore, I didn’t want to listen anymore about this silent sickness. It is not that I didn’t care about Alesseter, no way. I was overwhelmed and still mourning the death of Yojaira. Aleseter had an aggressive breast cancer and was strong to overcome it. Today, she is free of cancer and I am lucky to still have her as my friend.
One of the therapies or ways to overcome the death of Yojaira was to talk about her. I had other friends that listened to me and supported me. But what happens when relatives or friends don’t support the person who is living with the illness? This is cruel and shouldn’t be that way. From her experience, Alesseter recommends the following.
I found myself taking care of Yojaira at night, going with her to chemotherapy, and talking to her by phone even when she just listened to me. While being with her, I was strong and never cried, but as soon as I got home, I broke down. Luckily I had the support of my spouse.
I am glad for each moment I spent with Yojaira. We traveled, danced, laughed, studied, discussed topics, etc. She is just one of the many stories of women who struggled with breast cancer. So as Aleseter mentioned, check yourself and remember that the silence disease doesn’t attack only women of age.
Photo by Dainis Graveris on Unsplash