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Mary Marracino: War on breast cancer is still being waged

Ten years ago, I had an article accepted for publication in My View that appeared in the Mother’s Day edition. As Mother’s Day approached this year, I gathered my thoughts and reflected on that article. Back in 2003, I wrote of my motivation to “walk” in support of breast cancer and remembrance of my mother, who lost her battle with breast cancer in 1984.

On Saturday, I will walk in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in the Delaware Park Rose Garden. This year, in addition to honoring my mother’s loving legacy, I walk in support of my sister Carol, who is battling the disease today. She is my younger sister and my hero. I’ve watched, cried, prayed and listened over the past few months as this disease has rocked her world.

When Carol saw her mammogram change from the previous year, it was her trained eye that knew immediately she faced a dreaded diagnosis. As a sonographer, she has seen patients deal with similar diagnoses – although standing on the other side of the gurney makes one humble and thankful. She is thankful for her faith in God and has accepted her fate with love in her heart.

Early detection by a regular yearly mammogram was the key element in her diagnosis, since no lump was ever felt in her breast. I echo what I spoke of 10 years ago – that all women must be vigilant; early diagnosis with a yearly mammogram is your best weapon against this disease.

Finding humor in the face of illness has been sort of a knee-jerk response for my family. Thankfully, we all share a zest for life and a regular dose of laughter. The day of my sister’s double mastectomy, we were so loud and boisterous in the surgical waiting room at Sisters Hospital that we feared we would be asked to leave. But amidst the laughter and jokes were tears and prayers.

When Carol lost her hair exactly 14 days after starting chemotherapy, she quipped about her googly ears and a birthmark on the back of her head. Who knew? It’s her refreshing outlook and ability to laugh in spite of going through chemotherapy that make me admire her beautiful spirit.

I continue to look around my life and see wonderful people who need me, who depend on me. I owe it to them to make my health important. I want to grow very old with my husband. My daughter needs education and awareness that breast cancer is something that affects every person. My son needs to learn to be a compassionate man. He is studying to be a registered nurse and it makes me proud that he has chosen such an honorable profession. My sister needs me to be there for her while she continues her fight and endures chemotherapy.

The fight against breast cancer will continue, and with that comes education, research and awareness. Look around your life and most likely you will see how breast cancer has affected you. This disease has reshaped my world. The loss of my mother and the desire to support my sister motivate me. Ladies, please be timely in getting your yearly mammogram and do monthly breast examinations. The world is a better place because you are here.

We will walk on Saturday in the Delaware Park Rose Garden in honor of all women. Among the large crowd of supporters will be a team of Princess Warriors. My sister is the Viking princess, and the war on breast cancer marches on.