October has always been a favorite month of our family, with birthdays, anniversaries, football season, and Halloween. But in recent years, October also represents something much more special and personal — breast cancer awareness month. Our mother has twice survived this evil disease. Her first diagnosis was in 1997 at age 47, and she was diagnosed again ten years later. She has undergone two mastectomies, grueling reconstructive surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and hours upon hours of doctor and hospital visits, all with a smile on her face. With her remission spanning eight years this time, we were all hopeful we had seen the last of this monster. But cancer is ugly and mean and vengeful. Just last month, we were told that Mom’s cancer markers were elevated, and after lots of tests, the doctors have found suspicious lesions on her liver, spine, hip, and a rib. We are currently awaiting biopsy results, but her doctors at M.D. Anderson believe the spots are metastatic cancer, stemming from the original breast cancers. It is no doubt deflating to receive such news, but in the words of Chastiti’s eight year old, Payne, “WE WILL FIGHT!”
Cancer sucks, there is no doubt. But we have a loving and healing God.
As Jesus went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered “neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” John 9:1–3.
God is good always, and we are praying to see His healing works displayed in our sweet mother. We are hopeful that this quickly-assembled team at M.D. Anderson will batten down the hatches and beat this disease stalking our mother once and for all! We’ve had barely 6 weeks to process the information but we believe that our mother has many angels who are watching over her, and together WE WILL FIGHT!
Lately, there have been many criticisms of “breast cancer AWARENESS.” Many people feel that any efforts for “awareness” are unnecessary because everyone already knows about breast cancer. While that may be true, we love that the entire month of October is dedicated to honoring the ladies who have been affected. It represents a show of solidarity as we stand united in support of women across the world who have lost a part of their womanhood and even their lives to this beast. While certain organizations have been under fire in recent years for their dubious practices surrounding the proceeds from their pink efforts, there are many legit organizations that truly donate every penny to research and support for patients.
This year, Chandra decided to show her support by taking part in the DEFINE body & mind Pink Ride. This outdoor event was held at the DEFINE Montrose studio, and the hour long Revolution ride included multiple DEFINE instructors, a D.J., strobe lights, and more pink than you can imagine! With all proceeds going to research organizations, this incredibly fun event was a great way to show support, raise much needed funds for research and show solidarity to all those who are affected personally or peripherally by this disease.
While there are so many great and amazing organizations that raise both awareness and funds, Chastiti has a special place in her heart for The Rose. At age 21 Chastiti had a suspicious “lump” found by her doctor in her left breast, and it was removed and thankfully benign. When it happened again six years later, right after Chastiti finished law school (and the year after our mom had her first round of breast cancer), her doctor referred her to Dr. Dixie Melillo, who immediately put her right at ease. Again, the results revealed a benign cyst. But during those appointments in Dr. Melillo’s office she began to read about and learn the mission of The Rose — Dr. Melillo is one of the founding members, along with Dorothy Weston Gibbons, of this non-profit. The goal of The Rose is to reduce deaths from breast cancer by providing screening, diagnostics, and access to treatment for women regardless of their ability to pay (they even boast mobile mammography!). While fortunate to have insurance and the ability to pay for quality care, Chastiti also recognizes the staggering number of women who put off screenings or treatment because they have no idea where the money will come from. We all know that early detection is the key to beating this disease and with the American Cancer Society now recommending to move away from annual screenings and starting mammograms at age 45 instead of 40, we need more organizations like The Rose to fight that battle. The Rose strongly encourages women to continue annual screenings and that women between the ages of 40–45 benefit from mammograms. The Rose, since 1986, has provided women the opportunity to obtain top notch care regardless of ability to pay. Both of the founders came from humble beginnings, and they are the epitome of what giving back truly means. So please, if you know of any woman who needs or wants a mammogram, treatment, or counseling, but is concerned about being able to afford the care, please refer her to The Rose. Also, if you would like to help and want to see your money put to good use, donate now to The Rose.
While our sweet mom is scared, anxious, and of course mad, she is a fighter. She has already made several new friends with other patients and families at M.D. Anderson (for those that know her, you’re not surprised!) and is getting to laugh every day with her precious grandchildren while spending time in Houston. Our amazing Dad is fighting right along with her and will no doubt, challenge cancer to a good old fashioned fist fight if cancer decides to not cooperate. Mom has an amazing set of friends back home, and we know they are wishing they could be here with her too. She is currently undergoing radiation for the very painful tumor on her hip, and we are hoping to get the results of her liver biopsy very soon so that a comprehensive treatment plan can be put into place. We worry about the numerous lesions in various parts of her body. We worry what else the biopsy might reveal. We worry about her. We worry about Dad. We worry about her friends who are also battling cancer. We worry not only about history repeating itself with us, but with our daughters. But again, WE WILL FIGHT.
We ask that you pray, and not necessarily just for our mother. Pray for her healthcare providers to do their best. Pray for new research and funding to support it. Pray that ALL women are empowered to obtain and have access to screenings and treatment. Pray for those who have been affected by this monster. Pray for a cure.
…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phillipians 4:6–7.