BRONX, NY- My mother gifted me the teddy bear pictured below when I was seven years old. At the time I did not know what the symbol on its chest meant. All I cared about was playing with this bear. Sixteen years later, the bear belongs to my little sister. We know what the symbol means, and it is impacting us so much. Mami received the bear as a gift for donating to breast cancer research. On October 24, 2014, Mami received the news that she was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer.
Ironic, isn’t it? And October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.
My family and I have dealt with loved ones that had battled leukemia and stomach cancer, but this was the first time someone close to me has had breast cancer. The main question that crossed my mind was “why Mami?” My mother has gone through three strokes that have left her partially paralyzed, a few heart procedures, and various surgeries. Now she must battle cancer. It is in the early stages and she has a good chance of surviving it, but there is always the constant fear of losing her.
The day after mom told me her diagnosis, my friend Sasha shared a link on breast cancer awareness. An artist by the username of Halfy (deviantart.com) created awareness with the help of female superheroes. Wonder Woman, She Hulk, Storm, and Catwoman are doing self-examinations. Main point: even superheroes are vulnerable. No one is immune to cancer.
This is an amazing campaign to raise awareness for breast cancer. Let’s be honest, the ads on the subway are boring and most people don’t take the messages seriously. Art like this will catch a lot of attention. These powerful women are checking themselves. My mom checked herself and although there were no physical signs of cancer, a mammogram detected the problem.
I will soon pay a visit to my doctor and see what my chances are of developing breast cancer. It’s important for women to perform self-examinations monthly. For the men who are reading this, remember that breast cancer is not just “a woman problem”. There have been rare cases where men develop it too. This cancer can affect your wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, niece, cousin, best friend, all the important females in your life. So, let’s raise awareness, support the research, and encourage those who have been affected by breast cancer. They are not alone in this fight. My mother has a long battle ahead of her, but she is not going to give up.
Note: My mother had been cancer free for six years and was diagnosed again in January 2021. After a double mastectomy I am happy to report she kicked cancer’s ass for the second time!
Photos: Rosa Elena Burgos and Halfy
Last Updated: April 21, 2022