Health & Wellness

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Written by Fiona Ozenich 

In the early wintery months of 2020, my mom had sat me down in the living room and told me that she had breast cancer.  

She had found out a few months before but decided to wait to tell me.  

Now, my mother is still living, and has gone through the finalizing surgeries of her treatment this year, but the entirety of this experience has left me looking at breast cancer awareness month with a sort of disdain.  

The fundraisers and financial support provided to women undergoing breast cancer treatment are inspiring and uplifting to see. The issue mostly lies with the performative pink-out games that happen every year at almost every high school in the nation.  

Teenagers adorned with the brightest pinks they could find in the closet, paint on their faces, all looking to be packed into a student section just for the opportunity to have their pictures posted in the yearbook, or in a school Facebook group, or even a friend’s Instagram. All without the acknowledgment of the reality of breast cancer, let alone how different breast cancer can look for each family.  

My mother did not become withered and gray, but she grew to look older. She was starting to show her tiredness but not in a sick way. Just a bit run-down and a bit overworked. My mother has worked night-term for years, but it still came as a quiet shock. The effort it took to undergo chemotherapy treatments and work at the same time did not seem to bother my mother as much as the nausea did. She kept a cup in her van just for it.  

Eventually, my mother could not stand the smell of popcorn, or anything to greasy, for that matter. She had to step out of my cousin’s baby shower so she would not make a scene in the party room.  

We had a discussion that my mom was to get surgery. This would eventually become one of many. After a while, a different surgery every couple of months had become a type of normal, and jokes about my mother’s fake breast had become frequent. If my family had a talent for anything it was humor. But to be fair it is hard not to laugh at a large gelatin mound that my mother insisted on wearing to prevent being “uneven.” 

Breast cancer awareness may look different to your family, but health and safety is the goal for us all, so take care of yourself and look out for your loved ones. Celebrate this month by taking part in a community outreaches, fundraisers, reading survivor stories, or even getting a mammogram. 

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