Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

October 23, 2013

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

My mother’s breathing was ragged.

I held her left hand with each labored gasp. My dad, her husband of almost 59 years, gripped her right. As she breathed slowly, shallowly, my dad cried out, “Save a place for me in heaven.” Tears fell down the face of my sister, who sat at the foot of the bed. We watched 79 years of life and an 11-year battle with breast cancer come to an end.

Our mother was gone.

The pictures on the bedroom wall spoke to what was important to mom: family. Photos of each of her three children and their partners on their wedding days stood like sentinels overlooking her bed. The faces of her seven grandkids peered out from picture frames. A devoted husband looked on adoringly.

Happy memories.

I thought of my three daughters – all of whom were born during mom’s long fight with cancer. Days before her death, they stood at their grandmother’s bedside and sang “Jesus Loves Me.” But what will they remember about their grandma?

For me, June 2, 2013, always will be a day of sadness.

Earlier this month, I donned a pink shirt in memory of my mother, Roberta Reeder.

To be honest, sometimes I think all of the October pink ribbons, shirts and merchandise trivialize just how pernicious breast cancer really is. That said, I want my mother’s legacy to live on.

One good thing about Breast Cancer Awareness Month is it gets us thinking about what we can do.

Here are some thoughts:

• If you’re a woman, schedule your next mammogram today.

• Give a cancer patient the most important thing that you can: you. Cook a meal. Sit by a bedside.

• Comfort a family member.

There are lots of charities that help folks with breast cancer. Please donate or volunteer. Your help is needed.

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