"Unlike the others, I do not yet have a diagnosis date. And I fully intend to do all that I can to keep it that way...
For almost 10 years now, I’ve been active in preventative maintenance considering my high risk of developing breast cancer. My Mom, Grandma and Great Grandma were all diagnosed by the age of 40, and though I’m only 29, nearing the big 3-0, it feels more like minutes away from that age range rather than just a decade. Shortly after I turned 20, I went in for my bi-annual breast exam at the Sanford Breast Clinic here in Fargo. I have rather dense breast tissue, so to be honest, I’d have no idea if something was a lump or not. I’d had a fairly small frame back then, and I’d honestly thought that if something was wrong or had changed, that I would know. But as I went into the appointment, thinking it was the routine ‘feeling up’ session, I felt… off. And as my doctor prodded the same spot for longer than normal, my anxiety shot through the roof. She placed my hand on the spot she’d been feeling and, again, being honest, I would never have considered what she was feeling to be of concern. All I knew at that point was that she was feeling something and feeling something had the potential to not be good. So they scheduled an ultrasound for later that week, and as I left the appointment, I had an internal battle of… do I call my Mom, or not… The part of me that felt 12 again and just needed the comfort only a mother can give had my phone out and ready to dial. But the part of me that knew, after her own battle with cancer, she would be devastated to know that I as well may have to go through the same pain and suffering she endured said: ‘get your sh*t together, you don’t even know yet if it’s anything’. The 12 year old tantrum in my brain won out, and eventually I called her, attempting to keep my fear and tears in check, wanting to make sure she was ok more than I was. She came with to the appointment later that week, far more attentive than I was. I’d crawled into a numb hole, telling myself that if it ended up being something, that I would fight and win just as she had, and my Grandma before her.
Fortunately it was determined that it was just a cyst and wasn’t any concern, but it absolutely jump started something within me. Something that said ‘you need to do more’, not only for yourself, but all those impacted by breast cancer. My research into more drastic measures, like a prophylactic double mastectomy, kicked into gear. I met with a genetic counselor more than once to learn more about genetic testing. I honestly grilled every one of them on why being tested, whether the outcome be positive or negative, would change anything I’m doing at this point.
Shortly after that, I started talking with RueAnn on starting something bigger than ourselves. She’d already thrown around the term ‘Pink It Forward’ a few times on Facebook, but at that point it was a small gesture she would show to someone recently diagnosed. A dream of giving back in a way that wasn’t really prevalent yet, at least in our area. Conversations started with the directive of: what helped you… what made the miserable days better… what do you tell people that ask ‘what do I get someone recently diagnosed?’. Being that I have yet to go through breast cancer, and hope to never have to, I thought my mother would be a perfect addition. And in adding her, along with her cousin Tammy – RueAnn’s sister, the start of something great was happening. And we truthfully could not fathom that we’d be where we are today with Pink It Forward.
Pink It Forward is so many things for me. It’s an opportunity to embrace the power I have to make a difference in my future. It’s an opening to bring people along on my journey. It’s a chance to show what can be done to lessen the risk of developing breast cancer when you have a history as vast as ours. It’s the ability to make a difference in the life of impacted by with breast cancer – to remind those diagnosed they that are not alone, that they have an army behind them, and army of pink.
It’s my passion. It’s my life. And I love every second of it."