Like the majority of breast cancer survivors, I had absolutely no history of breast cancer in my family. Friends and relatives were sympathetic and well-meaning, giving me pink “Hope, Faith, Courage” bracelets and other pink ribbon items, but that left me feeling hollow. Supporting the movements to raise money for the cure gave me more satisfaction, but didn’t completely do it for me either. My motto became, “Curing is fine, but let’s find the CAUSE.” In my mind, that is the way toward helping all women, young, old, and unborn.
A breast cancer diagnosis is frustrating for many reasons. No one can tell you what causes it. I looked at all kinds of statistics and research, but even those could not reveal how and why I was diagnosed. I fit a few of the risk factors such as having my first baby at a later age, being female over 50 and overweight, and having taken hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for menopause symptoms. Then there were the things I had done right: breast fed for many years, avoided alcohol, and had regular mammograms. The latter action is what caught my cancer while it was early and small, most likely saving me a lot more anxiety and very unpleasant treatments.
Then I stumbled across the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation’s Love/Avon Army of Women and enrolled right away, making sure to share this fantastic program with my friends and family, too. In November of last year, one proposed study really hit a nerve with me – the Bacterial and Viral Diversity Study. It proposed that, like cervical and some other cancers, perhaps breast cancer starts with bacteria or viruses. Hot dang, here was a study I was sure was on the right track!
I applied to be a participant in this exciting study and was accepted. Even though the research site was in California and I live in Arizona, the distance to travel seemed small compared to the impact my participation could have on ending this disease. The staff at the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation was friendly, supportive, appreciative, knowledgeable, and professional. Participating in a study like this made me feel that my fight against breast cancer was going to be productive in a way that walking for the cure had never made me feel.
As the cause of breast cancer is better understood, then preventative steps can be defined beyond today’s directive of getting an annual mammogram. I look forward to a future where women (and men) can take charge of their health because the CAUSE of breast cancer has been studied and revealed. Only then will true eradication be possible!
Army of Women Member and proud supporter of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation