Breast Cancer, A First Hand Experience

As we celebrate October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we are so honored to have friend Shameeka Ayers (aka The Broke Socialite) with us to share her first hand story of breast cancer with us, and the inspiring things she is doing to raise awareness.

To say that I was a Mama’s girl would be an understatement.

I will never forget the Sunday morning in September 2002 that breast cancer wickedly crept its way into our lives. Before church, Mama called to say that she was a bit concerned because she was, out of nowhere, experiencing discharge from her left breast. That she immediately called my sister, Chanci, and me was not strange. While it was clear who was The Mama and who were The Daughters, we had a “girlfriend” type of relationship as adults. And like faithful friends do, we encouraged Mama to contact her gynecologist.

That following Tuesday? Mama was on the fast-track to a biopsy and other evaluations. Friday of that very week? Mama’s gynecologist called with confirmation of what we knew was an option: stage I breast cancer had invaded her body . The calling tree began. Mama to us. Us to Mama’s younger sisters, Aunts Angie and Karen. Aunts to close cousins and so forth. While we lived only 15 minutes apart, my husband could not get me to Mama quickly enough; it seemed like a cross-country drive. I needed to see her with a level of desperation that is still impossible for me to articulate.

As I crossed the threshold into the family room of my childhood home, I was five years old again. I could not muster the wherewithall to do anything but hug Mama and bawl; it was hard to catch my breath. Through my sobs, I asked if she was OK and how she felt about the news. In true Sylvia fashion, she said that she prayed for healing as she awaited our arrival and put the matter in God’s hands. She began to share as much about the treatment plan as she knew: a double mastectomy was in order. Soon. Then, without flinching, she looked at her left breast and next nodded at her right breast and said: “Girls, y’all have been good to me but it’s time for y’all to go!” By this time, most of our immediate family had arrived and the room ripped with laughter. For the next seven years, Mama’s undying faith and humor would escort her (and us ALL) through that surgery and through remission.

Because it attempts to hold its’ victims captive, the cancer was not to be stymied; beautiful laughter clearly made it angry. Not to be mocked, it resurfaced with a vengeance in May 2009. Mama continued to pray, laugh, fight and INSPIRE until she took her last breath on August 28, 2012. In such a way that became synonymous with the life she led, Mama prepared and equipped us to go on without her physical presence. I know she hoped that our natural instincts would have us turn directly to our faith, family and friends to sustain us as she transitioned to becoming our Guardian Angel. While we are still trying to figure out our “new normal”, we can attest to a peace that surpasses understanding.

This is the first October in nearly twelve years that I have not witnessed Mama at the helm of a speaking engagement or fundraising initiative for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Ever the Mama’s girl, I pick up the torch in her honor. One of the things she, my sister and I LOVED to do was shop together. Oh, how we loved a good bargain! I could not have been more thrilled to be invited to host a night of shopping at Swoozie’s Buckhead on Thursday, October 18, 2012 from 5-7 PM. For $20, I hope that you will purchase a PinkPass that will entitle you to a 20% discount through October 31. With the gift-giving season nearly upon us and with all of the great choices at Swoozie’s, it’s an opportunity to jumpstart your holiday shopping. I am pleased to share that all funds from PinkPass purchases will benefit The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Not local? You can purchase a virtual PinkPass online and realize the same benefits!

And because we will NOT give in to breast cancer and the lives that it attempts to dominate, we’re going to keep the conversations going on Tuesday, October 23, 2012 at 8 PM EST via an interactive Twitter party. Follow me (@brokesocialite) and Swoozie’s (@Swoozies) as we lead and share our stories. We hope that you’ll join in honor of a family member or friend who has been impacted by breast cancer. We want to celebrate them and their fights, too! Our hashtag is #PINKPASS.

Until then, I have already picked out my favorite items that I’ll grab with my PinkPass this Thursday. I hope to see you there!

1. Corkcicle – since I collect wine corks (they immediately go from newly opened bottle to my collection jar) for crafting, this is perfect!

2. 2013 Weekly Agenda – How did this year fly by so quickly? New Year’s Resolution: Do better with my scheduling in 2013.

3. Weekend Bag – As I FINALLY take a long girls’ weekend at the beach next weekend to reflect and rejuvenate, I’m SURE not to overpack. This is juuuuuusssst enough space.
4. Pink leather flask – It’s tailgating season. Don’t all proper ladies have one?

5. With A Twist Bangle – I’ll take a stack of three, please.

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