Monthly Archives: October 2011

Team Pink Eye Project: Here Is My Why

Welcome to my Team Pink Eye post!

So sorry to disappoint, but you aren’t going to find makeup here. This is a sock blog and today I’m going to show you my Breast Cancer Awareness socks. Jackpot, right?

But first I wanted to take a moment to share why I’m posting this. As you may or may not know I am one of the co-founders of the Team Pink Eye Project, along with Rebecca Storevik. There are a few reasons why I decided to start this, ranging from wanting to give back to having immersed myself (albeit accidentally) in so much negativity on my other blog for so long I just wanted to do something positive for once.

But the main reason is this. At some point in my life there is a very good chance I will have to fight breast cancer. My mother recently beat stage 3b breast cancer, my grandmother (who I never had the honor of meeting and whose name I carry on) had breast cancer and ultimately lost her battle when it metastasized, two of my aunts had it, as did my cousin. Those aren’t great odds, genetically speaking, so I feel it’s my duty to not only honor these brave women but also proactively address a fight it looks like I’ll be conscripted into fighting myself.  So much for altruism.

My Cousin Nina

There are many stories I could share today but I want to tell you about my cousin, Nina. Nina was gorgeous, vivacious and whip smart. We essentially grew up together as her mother watched both me and my sister on the weekends while my mother worked. She was a few years younger than me and we were close growing up. Time plays havoc though, and as we grew older we grew apart.

Nina was in her early 20s when she found a lump in her breast. She went to the doctors who tried to assuage her fears by telling her someone so young simply didn’t get breast cancer. The doctors were wrong.

With a combination of regular medical treatment as well as alternative therapy Nina was eventually declared cancerfree. She continued on, raising a child and eventually getting married.

In early 2005 Nina discovered she was pregnant. We were all overjoyed. Babies are awesome and any baby of Nina’s doubly so because she was amazing. Around the time of this news there was a more sobering discovery: another lump.

Testing ensued and we all hoped for the best. Unfortunately the news was not what we had hoped. The breast cancer had recurred. Life is funny that way sometimes (not ‘ha ha funny’, more like ‘the deity of your choice is laughing at your Gordian Knot funny’). There you are, living your life, when all of a sudden you are faced with the most terrible choices.

The doctors were very clear. Without immediate treatment there was a good chance Nina would die. The treatment, however, could do harm to her unborn child. Nina chose to forgo treatment.

Nina had a beautiful and healthy baby girl later that year.  She began treatment shortly thereafter, a kind of Hail Mary pass to see if there was a chance.

We lost Nina in September of 2005. She was 24 years old.

Writing this brings it all back. The sacrifice, the pain, the sheer ‘why’ of it all. I think about Nina often and hope that if I were faced with a situation I could be half as courageous as she was.

Her mother told me that one of the last things she said was a message for me, my sister, and her sister. She begged us to do self exams and to question doctors who wanted to dismiss us because of our age.

I do my monthly exams, as well as my yearly Well Woman visits, and today, in the spirit of Nina, I am here to ask you to do the same. It only takes a few minutes a month but it’s the best few minutes you’ll ever spend. Take care of yourself. Be healthy. Be well. Fight. Survive. But mostly, be vigilant. Do it so a story like this never has to be written again.

Please take a moment to check out the other Team Pink Eye participants and donate to Susan G. Komen Passionately Pink for the Cure enter some awesome giveaways.