Monday, January 12, 2009

Pause for a Cause

I met Barbara Chernofsky over 18 years ago when she was hired as a full-time faculty in our Child Development Department at Grossmont College. She was a tough old bird and I liked her almost immediately. My family grew to love her. Since she had no children of her own, she focused enthusiastically on others. I often found chocolate or a cold Diet Coke in my classroom waiting for me on those days I taught long 3 hour classes. My kids loved when Barb and Paul (her husband) would stop by - mainly because they knew they would be the center of attention for the duration of the visit. She loved her convertible, cats, and gambling (she almost always won!).

Barbara was diagnosed with breast cancer several years after I met her. She endured chemo, radiation, and numerous medications, but never missed a day of class. She showed up bald. She showed up with wigs. She showed up sick and she showed up exhausted. But, she always showed up. After several years in remission the cancer returned and she died at home with her dear husband by her side. Her last days were spent at home surrounded by those who loved her. I was proud to be among them. I miss her terribly.

My step-sister, Tina, was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 31. Her cancer was invasive and fast growing. She, too, endured months of painful, exhausting treatments. Today she is 34 and is cancer-free. She has just adopted a beautiful little girl named Katie and her future is bright.

My cousin, Judy, is a breast cancer survivor. My aunt, Clara, was a victim of breast cancer and died in her 30's. My neighbor, Ann-Louise, is a breast cancer survivor.

Just yesterday I learned that another dear friend has breast cancer. She is a fighter and a woman of great faith. Her life has had challenges and with each she has grown stronger. This will be no exception. She will not battle alone. There are many of love her and will be by her side. I will be one of them.

My point is.....we all know someone who has had or has breast cancer. This is evidence of its prevalence. My OBGYN told me once that he had never lost a patient to cancer who routinely had mammograms and exams. That was good enough for me, so I'm religious about getting in every year. I am shocked when I hear women say they haven't had a mammogram in years. Breast cancer is highly curable when caught early. It's a no-brainer.

Sorry about being a "mother", but I plan on all of you being around for a very long time. If you haven't seen your doctor for awhile....CALL TODAY!

Submitted with love.


  1. This post really hit home for me. One of my dearest friends is in the fight of her life right now! She is the first person that I know personally to have breast cancer. Boy does that change things. I was just thinking the other day that I haven't been to the Dr. since before we moved to WA over a year ago! Thanks for the reminder. I'm calling today!!

  2. Great gave me chills. I love all of those people. When should you have your first one? Do the machines come in all sizes....mine might be hard to find. Thanks for another reminder of the "big picture" of life.

  3. This was such a good post. My grandma Poole died of breast cancer at 50 and I remember when my mom turned 51. It was such a strange feeling to realize she had outlived her mother. She is religious about mammograms and I need to be too. I'm probably not too old to start. thanks for the reminder.

  4. Brooke, I remember Kathleen (your grandmother) very well and I remember her battle with cancer. She was a fighter, too. When I had Kelly she was fighting for her life....and she brought me a meal. I'll never forget that. I still have the blanket she gave Kelly. She was a beautiful, classy, lady.

  5. Thanks Pandy. I wish I could have known her. I think she would find a way to come back down here and slap me around if I don't get mamograms. She was a southern woman with some spunk.

  6. Great post. I'm sorry to hear about your friend. Hopefully she will win the battle! It's so easy to think that it will never happen to me, but I have already seen cancer (of various varieties) hit people close to me and their families. One friend's mom was diagnosed recently, but is beatable bc it was found so early during a routine check-up. She always got her mammograms every year near her bday--a tradition I think is a great idea.

    Also, thanks for your comments about my grandma Poole. I agree with Brooke that I would love to have seen her--esp. with my mom! I imagine those two would be a force.