Pink is often attributed to being a more feminine color, but in October the color pink symbolizes strength. October is a month that celebrates all those who have been affected by breast cancer. The Breast Cancer Organization’s website shares some of this year’s statistics concerning the devastating illness.
According to BreastCancer.org, “About 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 13%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.”
Many have been affected by breast cancer, whether they know someone who has battled with the disease or they themselves have battled with it. The breast cancer organization’s website shares shocking statistics on just how many women have battled or are currently battling breast cancer as of January of this year.
According to BreastCancer.org, “As of January 2021, there are more than 3.8 million women with a history of breast cancer in the U.S. This includes women currently being treated and women who have finished treatment.”
My mother, Brenda Buschman, a fifteen-year breast cancer survivor, shares some of her experiences regarding treatment while fighting the illness.
“I was diagnosed with breast cancer in May of 2006. The first part of my treatment was a lumpectomy which was a surgery that was performed on me in June. After that, I began four months of chemotherapy in August, and in January I began three months of radiation treatments” Buschman said.
These treatments are no easy task. Buschman shares how chemotherapy and radiation took an extreme toll on her physical health.
“I dreaded the (chemotherapy) treatment days. I knew after a treatment that I would be sick for the next three days. Then I would slowly recover until the next treatment. I also had to receive a shot to boost my blood cells after each treatment, which caused my bones to ache terribly. In regards to my radiation treatment, whenever I left those sessions I was overcome with extreme exhaustion,” Buschman said.
Not only are breast cancer and its respective treatments physically draining, but it is emotionally draining as well, as women can often become insecure about how cancer causes changes in their physical appearance, most notably by losing their hair. Buschman shares how hair loss was something that she struggled with personally physically and emotionally.
“I was very insecure about losing my hair, but knowing it was temporary provided some comfort,” Buschman said.
It can be hard to feel comforted or stay optimistic when going through something as nasty as cancer, but for Buschman she decided to continue to be the dedicated mother she always has been not letting breast cancer slow down for a minute and her involvement in turn, kept her uplifted during this challenging time.
“During all of this, I tried to stay active in all school activities, extra-curricular events, and church commitments, not missing any of my child’s programs or events. I was elementary cheer coach, taught Children’s choir, and carpooled everywhere. I think that was what kept me positive during it all,” Buschman said.
If anything stands out from my memory of this time when my mom was battling breast cancer, it is her continued involvement in my life. She was at every school event, took me to a majority of my dance classes almost never missed a church service, and planned my 10th birthday party just as she had all those years before. She never wanted me to see her sick, so the days when she would receive treatment I would often go over to friends houses or stay with my grandparents. She was so present and involved in my life even while being so ill I don’t think I fully realized the gravity of what my mom was dealing with at the time. Knowing now the extent of everything she had to endure to beat breast cancer -I may be biased- but to me, there is no greater hero. This month be sure to reach out to those you know who have been affected by breast cancer and show them your support and love.