I have listened to my mom tell me many things (and I have, on one or two occasions, even not listened to what she has said), but I never expected to hear the words that came out of her mouth in December of 2011. It was two weeks before Christmas when I sat down in front of the fireplace and she faced me, saying, “I have breast cancer.”
The air thickened with words I couldn’t say, questions I wouldn’t ask. What does this mean? Will my mom have chemo? Will she lose her hair? Her strength?
For the month before this, my mom underwent preliminary tests for an ache she had on her breast. She swore my step-dad and me to secrecy, and we couldn’t even tell other family members about these tests. My mom didn’t want anybody to assume the worst.
However, when the results came back and they confirmed she had breast cancer, it was time for us to break our silence. As hard as we had worked to keep her affliction a secret, we now endeavored to spread the word. We had forty-eight hours to tell friends and family because only two days after she was officially diagnosed, my mom was scheduled to have a mastectomy.
My mom, as usual, had been right: when we shared the news, people were shocked. Yet at the same time, I was humbled by the amount of humanity displayed in our family, friends, and people in the community, wanting to help. Obviously, my mom was important to me, but seeing a similar compassion towards her from others was amazing. Awe-inspiring. We asked everyone to pray for her and her doctors, to think good thoughts, and to send “positive vibes” for her operation and recovery. As they encouraged me and prayed for my mom, it became clear that—of course—she meant a lot to them as well. Sure, she was my mother, but she was also their friend, boss, and loved-one.
And though I slowly realized this, my perspective would still, at times, narrow and focus—not on my mom—but on me. I tried to justify my egocentric behavior by realizing that, after all, it was my mother this happened to and I was her child. I could not help but think about how her surgery affected me. Part of my mom was gone. Forever. The part that had fed me and nourished me in my first months of life—completely removed. In a way, it felt like my foundation had been stripped from me.
But when we came home from the hospital, helped my mom upstairs into bed, and gingerly tucked the covers around her bandage and ice pack, I had to stop myself—had to cut away my own cancer of lamentation. I was bemoaning what used to be, yet I had so much to rejoice about at that moment.
Since her surgery, my mom has recovered completely with no need for chemo. We have continued to celebrate her miracle of health and healing, and through this, my mom has reminded me to keep a strong faith in what is good and share it often with others.
With renewed vitality in the past year, my mom has passionately shared her story with friends and family, and has even been able to share it with strangers. Her 32 year-old business, Holly Yashi Jewelry, is a passionate partner of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation and has created Special Edition Pink Ribbon earrings, necklaces, and pins whose profits aid in funding their prevention focused research programs. Every sale contributes $5.00 toward the Foundation to support its mission to end this disease within our lifetime. Together, we are proudly investing in a future without breast cancer.
I am so grateful to have my mom as a living example of a woman with a strong and appreciative heart—for God, for others, and for life! Her involvement with the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation is just one example where I have seen my mom use her experience to encourage and support other women who have been touched by this disease. My mom’s experience adjusted my perspective on how I should be using the resources I have to make a lasting and positive impact for others. It yet again reminds me to listen to my mother—and hear how her ACTIONS speak louder than words.
– Heather Quarles
Daughter of Holly Yashi Jewelry Co-Founder, Holly Hosterman, and proud supporter of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation