Editor’s Note: This post was written by NBCF Marketing Coordinator, Katie Perez.
When I first saw an opportunity to work at National Breast Cancer Foundation, I immediately thought of my personal connection to breast cancer. Knowing that my great-grandmother, Lida, was a survivor and that my other great-grandmother, Alicia, lost her life to breast cancer, I felt compelled to be a part of Helping Women Now.
As a child, I loved visiting my great-grandma in Ohio. Her name is Lida, but “MeeMee” is what I still call her today. I quickly realized how lucky I was to have a great-grandma to visit. Not every child has the blessing of having a great-grandparent in her life. As I grew older, I began to hear more about the disease she overcame; MeeMee is a breast cancer survivor.
At only 55 years old, MeeMee was diagnosed with breast cancer. She recalls her initial emotion was shock. Like our Co-founder and CEO Janelle, MeeMee was diagnosed in the early 1980s when resources about breast cancer were difficult to find. She had a lot of questions, but thankfully she was able to access the medical care she needed. Now, with NBCF’s resource, Beyond The Shock, patients like MeeMee are able to receive information and share their stories with those in similar situations.
We believe no one should face breast cancer alone. MeeMee’s sisters played an integral part in her journey as they took her to chemo treatments and offered a helping hand when needed. In addition to leaning on friends and family for support, MeeMee advises younger generations: “Don’t neglect your health and your body. Remember to get your mammograms and your medical checkups.” Now, over 30 years later, she will celebrate her 90th birthday later this month and is grateful her survival allowed her to spend all of these years with her loved ones.
Despite the fact that she doesn’t live in the same state, I’ve been fortunate to build a loving relationship with MeeMee over the years. I am so thankful for her survival. Because she survived, I have had the opportunity to spend holidays with her, learn from her about our family’s heritage, and learn how to bake the perfect molasses cookie. I cherish having MeeMee around into my adult years. I wish I’d had the opportunity to know my great-grandmother Alicia as well. Breast cancer interrupted my opportunity to make special memories with her.
Early detection allowed MeeMee many more years to leave a legacy through our family. My hope is that the help NBCF provides the women we serve can allow other families more time to cherish with their loved ones…and I’m proud to be a part of that.