Having a Family History of Cancer
I am true GRITS—Girl Raised In The South. I was surrounded by GRITS my whole life. My roots run deep in the great state of Texas. But my roots also run deep in cancer. My earliest memory as a toddler was my paternal grandmother battling breast cancer. She won that battle, and then the cancer came back. Then her daughter, my aunt, was fighting her own battle against breast cancer. Then my mom faced breast cancer. Then my aunt again. Then my mom’s sister. Then my maternal grandmother. Every woman on both sides of my family has had breast cancer twice, except my mom.
For me, waging a war against cancer was what the GRITS in my family did. At Thanksgiving dinner, the conversation was “Please pass the mash potatoes and let me tell you about my latest surgery” or “Are you ready for some pie while I tell you about my chemo side effects?” Not one of them ever sat in the corner feeling sorry for herself. Seeing these women stand up to their cancers had a profound effect on me when I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
When it happened, my first words were “That sucks.” It was a hard blow, but this was a battle I wanted to fight. You don’t have to be defined by your family history with a disease. You don’t have to be a statistic. You can choose to fight.