Melissa and Carol Ives

My mom Carol is the kind of woman who always puts her family’s needs before her own.  When she noticed a lump in her left breast she decided to put off getting it looked at until after my father’s quadruple bypass heart surgery, which was still months away.  She felt like she wouldn’t be able to take care of my dad when he needed her if she was in treatment herself.  She did her best to convince herself it probably wasn’t breast cancer, after all, we have no family history of it, and she had been in mostly excellent health her entire life.  She ignored the lump as best as she could, even as it started protruding through her skin.

But her body had other ideas.  About a month before my dad’s surgery, my mom got really sick and the doctors suspected she might have Pneumonia so they needed to do a chest exam.  That’s when the doctors saw the lump and immediately had it biopsied.  A couple of days after that, my mom was diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast Cancer.

My mom asked me to come over to her house for a talk which I assumed would be about my dad’s surgery, which at this point was a week away.  Instead she gave me the news and let me know she would be starting treatment right away.  I stayed strong for my mom, fought back the tears and offered to put her in touch with my friends at Susan G. Komen of Oregon and Southwest Washington.  At that time in my career I was the Marketing Director at iHeartMedia and had built up a relationship with Komen Oregon.  Even though I had been working with them for years, I really didn’t know what they could do to help my Mom – but I had to try everything that I could. As it turns out, their support made all the difference. 

Komen helped me help my mom start her journey with advice we never knew we needed.  When it came time for my mom to decide what kind of surgery she needed, my friends at Komen jumped right on the phone to talk through her options.  Komen introduced her to other survivors so she could know what to expect and the Survivor Relations Manager (Toni Mountain) even gave my mom her cell phone number so she could call her whenever she needed.  They did all of this not because I had a professional relationship with them, but because that’s what Susan G. Komen of Oregon and Southwest Washington does.  They help people with what they need, whether that’s access to treatment, advice, or just someone to listen.

My mom never thought ‘why me?’ instead she decided she would not give the disease any energy and remained positive throughout the process.  She felt lucky that her family was there for her every step of the way.  The diagnosis came in 2009 when my mom was 70.  She’s been in remission for the last several years and we are grateful for each and every one of those years.

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