October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Yahoo News asked women who have had breast cancer or are going through treatment to write about the people in their lives who stood by them and cared for them. Here's one story.
FIRST PERSON | Never in a million years, did I think breast cancer would happen to me. I never would've thought that a routine yearly check-up would reveal such ugly results. It didn't run in my family. I didn't feel or see a lump during any of my self-exams. So, I was completely shocked when my gynecologist expressed concern and wanted to me to get a mammogram.
I was scared. I was worried. I felt alone.
I didn't feel comfortable sharing the news with just anybody. I also couldn't share my feelings with my family. A few years prior, my sister had cancer, and it put my aging parents on an emotional roller coaster. I couldn't do this to them... again.
I did have a friend who had been through a similar experience with a family member, so one day over lunch, I felt safe to disclose my scariest secret. I'm glad I did. She was understanding, supportive, and compassionate.
It was what I needed. I didn't need a million questions. I didn't need to hear a reactive response. I didn't want to hear "Did you try this? Did you do this?" type of questions. I just wanted to be heard with love and understanding. She listened as I cried. Being that type of friend meant the world to me.
Throughout 2007, I had several mammograms, MRIs, and even a biopsy. She was there with me every step of the way. She went with me to almost every appointment and if she couldn't make it, she would meet me for lunch or after work. When I found out I had to have surgery, she took a week off from work to take care of me. I remember we would camp out in front of my TV watching Lifetime movies and eating chocolate cupcakes that she'd baked.
Through this experience, she became my "breast friend." After my surgery and successful post-op appointment, I remember we celebrated by taking a short road trip. We both felt triumphant. My post tests showed I was cancer-free and continue to be free and clear.
My friend, Dawn, passed away in an accident in 2009, but her life on this earth was invaluable to me. I will never forget the love and compassion she showed during a time I needed someone the most. The memories that we shared together will always be cherished.
-- Suzanna L. Kroften, 38, Tampa, Fla.