Sit around a table with friends and share conversation. If there is no one there who has experienced breast cancer, there will be someone who can name a friend who has. Today, I share the story of Harbor Island resident and cancer survivor M. Toni Richmond.
As the end of the month approaches, children are excited with visions of Halloween and trick-or-treating, and images of scary movies and monsters.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and cancer is my scary monster. He lifts his head occasionally in my life and scares me more than any movie or childhood monster ever could.
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I'm a two-time cancer survivor. I had breast cancer in 1993 and colon cancer around 2002.
The day in 1993 when I received the message that I had breast cancer will always be with me. I thought of it as a death sentence. A thousand thoughts ran through my mind. Will I have an opportunity to watch my grandchildren grow up? What will my new husband think of me after a mastectomy? These questions and stressful ideas plagued my every thought.
The information and care I received from my doctors were outstanding. The support I got from family and friends was absolute. It gave me the will to cope and kept me from thinking of giving in. My mother and three of her sisters had cancer. I have friends who have had cancer. For some family and friends, the scary monster just picked them up.
When I was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2002, I asked "Why me?" I was devastated by the news. I had to rely on my faith, and two things came to mind: Never question God; and God never gives you more than you can bear. I decided then to read as much as possible on staying well, improve my eating habits and increase my exercise program.
It is not easy, but I am determined to live my life to the fullest, one day at a time. I am called the invisible poster person of breast cancer. I remind friends to get mammograms. I encourage women to do all they can to keep the scary monsters away.
Port Royal resident Ervena Faulkner is a retired educator who has always had an interest in food and nutrition. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.