My Experience with Breast Cancer and My Mom…

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and it is a topic that is often on my mind. We all know someone who has been affected by breast cancer or some kind of cancer. It is so common now. Here is my experience with it…

My mother passed away in 2008 from breast cancer. She was first diagnosed about 9 years before when I was in my mid 20’s. We kinda forgot (not really but you know what I mean) about it after she passed the “5-year mark”.

She was first diagnosed about 9 years before when I was in my mid 20’s. We kinda forgot (not really but you know what I mean) about it after she passed the “5-year mark”.

My mom and I were close – it was just her and I as I grew up and I had a great childhood! I remember getting the call and I went home to her as soon as I could. She had a mastectomy. She cleaned up her diet and was always good about doing some sort of exercise. She was seeing doctors twice a year to make sure it was not coming back. In 2006 she was having a lot of pain in her hips and trouble walking. A few doctors thought is was arthritis. She was finally able to get a scan and they saw that it was the breast cancer that had slowly spread to her bones. At this point, we knew she would be living with it and trying to keep it under control, which worked for a few years. During that time my youngest son was born and we spent a lot of time on her bed giggling at him and his baby antics!

In 2006 she was having a lot of pain in her hips and trouble walking. A few doctors thought is was arthritis. She was finally able to get a scan and they saw that it was the breast cancer that had slowly spread to her bones. At this point, we knew she would be living with it and trying to keep it under control, which worked for a few years. During that time my youngest son was born and we spent a lot of time on her bed giggling at him and his baby antics!

My memories now of my mom are not of cancer, but of all the wonderful times we had together throughout my life!

A few things I learned from breast cancer.

Enjoy all of the time that you have with people you love! Do your research, decide on a screening method or treatment plan that feels right to you. Maybe try multiple methods of detection including seeing your OB/GYN, mammograms, ultrasounds, self-exams and thermography. Research alternative options. There is controversy among all of these paths but look around and find what makes you feel comfortable.

I know there are so many theories on this and doing this may not prevent cancer, but ever since I cleaned up my diet, I have not gotten any callbacks after a mammogram or thermogram to ‘have another look”. I know that does not rule me out but I finally feel like I am taking charge and doing something. And lastly, tell the people you love how much they mean to you, enjoy the moment and laugh a lot!

I know there are so many ways to catch and treat breast cancer these days so please do whatever way feels right for you and get checked out!

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Katie has lived in Flagstaff for 22 years and grew up in North Carolina. She has 10 and 12 year old boys who are certainly an adventure! Her family is by far the most rewarding part of her life. Katie loves hiking and running in our beautiful hills, skiing, river rafting, traveling, health and clean eating (thanks to a whacky thyroid). She is also always taking small steps to clean up our environment, and she is currently learning meditation and just loves learning in general! Katie and her college roommate drove to AZ from VA after college and Katie has only left briefly but Flagstaff is her home for sure! She met her wonderful husband while river guiding in the Grand Canyon. Katie is a family photographer at www.katiewoodardphotography.com, here in Flagstaff and loves capturing the natural love and beauty in families. Her newest fun adventure is co-founding Women Empowering Northern Arizona.