My name is Sherrie Bothee, and breast cancer has influenced my life a great deal. In fact, it has changed my life.
In 2004, I walked a 3-day Avon walk from San Jose to San Francisco. I did this with my best friend, her sisters and mom. We did this to honor her mom who is a survivor and doing great! This was the most difficult thing I have ever done in my entire life. We walked 60 miles in three days. The experience at the finish line was extremely moving, and it was incredibly rewarding. It was worth every step.
At the same time, my Aunt Jean was battling breast cancer. She had been diagnosed, had a double mastectomy, chemo and radiation, she was okay for a couple of years Then it came back and it had spread to her liver and bones. I watched this poor woman battle this disease with every bit of energy she had. I thank God for Hospice who took amazing care of her in her home, so she could be with her family.
In 2005, I walked in an American Cancer Society's Relay for Life event in Rockford. My mom and my aunt who was battling cancer at the time came to see what the relay was all about. They were sitting in the bleachers. When I finished walking, I went up to the bleachers and my aunt said to me, "This is an amazing event, next year I am going to walk with you." This touched me so. Unfortunately, the following May, just 10 days before the Relay event, my aunt lost her battle to cancer.
At that moment, I decided that I was going to start my own Relay for Life team and help fight this disease. Our team is going on our 4th year in participating in the Relay event in Rockford, Michigan. This has not only impacted me, but my mom and my daughter. They are also very active in the relay. I will continue to have a Relay for Life team as long as I possibly can. We need to raise as much money and awareness as we possibly can to help prevent, and or find a cure for cancer. Every year at the relay, I can still hear those words my aunt said to me, and it brings tears to my eyes.
Just two years later, two of my cousins were diagnosed with breast cancer; one was 38 and the other one, 48. I am thankful to say that they are both cancer free, and are survivors.
I also have had a breast cancer scare myself at the age of 42. I had calcifications, and had to have surgery to have them removed. Thank God the mammogram picked them up as tiny as they were and they were able to remove them. I am a huge advocate of getting mammograms, and I honestly believe that all woman should have them starting at the age of 35. Right now I have two friends fighting breast cancer. It seems like every time I turn around another beautiful woman that I know is being diagnosed.
We need to figure out how this disease can be prevented. Although there have been great strides in detection and less invasive treatments, the most awesome thing would be to find out how to prevent this. There are simply too many women being diagnosed with this disease.