Breast Cancer Awareness month is coming to a close, and it is a great chance to spread awareness about the topic. Breast cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the breast. One in every 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime (an extremely sad fact), which means that a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every two minutes in the United States.
Bella Potter, a freshman at Edinboro University, talked about her connection and her family’s journey with breast cancer in their family.
“My connection to breast cancer is through my great-grandma Mary,” Potter said. “She was diagnosed with breast cancer in her late 80s. She was too old for chemo to make a difference, so she just took it one day at a time. She passed away from the cancer spreading when she was 96.”
Potter has a tattoo on her left forearm in her grandmother’s handwriting. It is extremely important to her.
“My tattoo reads ‘Love Great Grandma Mary,’ and it is in her handwriting,” Potter explained. “It was taken from the last birthday card she gave me before she passed away. She was such an important part of our family, and I find comfort always carrying a piece of her with me. It reminds me that even though she has passed, I still have all of the memories from when she was around.”
Potter says her best advice to other families dealing with breast cancer is to just cherish all family and friends while you can because life doesn’t last forever.
“You tend to treasure moments a lot more when you realize that you could lose somebody, and it’s better to have happy memories with a person than to dwell on the sad,” she said.
One of Villa Maria’s own, Coach Brianna Curtis, had breast cancer. She was diagnosed around 2 years ago and she is now in remission after an entire two years of treatments and over seven surgeries.
Coach Curtis is an inspiration to many young girls. She coaches the Villa softball team and gives lessons to young girls hoping to become better softball players. She loves her kids and doesn’t know what she would do without them. She talked a little about her story and journey with breast cancer.
“At 27 years old, I never expected to receive a breast cancer diagnosis,” Curtis said. “I remember sitting in the doctors office expecting to go in for a simple sonogram and leaving with breast biopsies. A few days later, I received the phone call that everyone dreads. I replayed those words in my head over and over again: ‘You have cancer.’”
In the days following her diagnosis, Curtis was flooded with appointments: oncology, breast surgeon, genetics, fertility, etc.
“I went through more imaging and a pet scan,” she said. “I worked with my doctors to formulate a treatment plan that included 18 weeks of hard chemo, a year of hormone therapy, a bilateral mastectomy, and 25 rounds of radiation.”
Chemotherapy was one of the most challenging times of Curtis’ life.
“Between losing my hair, gaining weight, and not being able to work, I felt very broken,” she said. “What I am most proud of is how I maintained a positive attitude. On difficult days I relied solely on my support system. I have an incredible network of family, friends, and athletes that I coach who went out of their way to ensure that I had everything I needed.”
Curtis knows that cancer is one of the worst things to happen to a person but she believes that there is a purpose for what she went through.
“Cancer strengthened my faith, taught me to appreciate my family. It showed me how amazing a community can be, but most importantly it has taught me to always emulate love and kindness,” Curtis said. “It may sound cliche, but cancer really forces you to have an appreciation for even the smallest moments in life.”
Brianna Curtis has found a new purpose in wanting to spread awareness about breast cancer. She has some advice for women of all ages.
“Breast cancer does not discriminate,” she said. “Unfortunately, breast cancer is being diagnosed in young women at an alarming rate. This is why it is so important to complete a self-breast exam monthly.”