Kendra and her mom.
The following is from Kendra and her personal experience with her mom having battled and survived breast cancer. Thank you for sharing your story Kendra.
A Breast Cancer Story
By Kendra Betke
For something that was such a life-altering event for my family, I have very few (and very odd) memories of my mom having breast cancer. I remember the day my parents told me, I had my 3rd grade Invention Convention (whatever that was). My parents were late since they were at the doctor. When we got home I remember sitting in the kitchen while one of them said mom had breast cancer. I don’t remember who said it or what exactly they said, I don’t remember my brother being there, I don’t remember what I said (if anything). But I remember the kitchen being dark. (I’ve told my parents this before; my memories of mom’s “cancer period” include the house always being dark. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but that’s how my brain chose to remember it). I remember sitting on my parents’ bed that night while my dad made calls to family. My mom made my dad tell her mom. He was so calm and positive on the phone. I don’t remember being worried or scared, probably in part because I didn’t understand it and in part both my parents were so positive. It was all very matter-of-fact. She had cancer but she was going to get treatment and everything would be okay.
The day of my mom’s double mastectomy we were hosting a party at our house. My mom’s friends came over to handle everything and watch my brother and me. I spoke to my mom on the phone that night and she kept falling asleep in the middle of the conversation. I remember going with my dad to bring her home from the hospital, and the car was FULL of flowers. I remember my dad shaving my mom’s head after her hair started falling out – my mom tells me I cut all the hair off my Barbie Dolls as well. I have vague memories of wig and scarf shopping, going downtown to a chemo appointment and seeing the 27 vials of chemo drugs my mom had to get (a family friend took my brother and I to Nike Town and to get pizza for most of the appointment), my mom sleeping all the time, an awful canoe trip where my mom’s incisions broke open and were leaking puss, and trying to tape diapers to her breasts in the bathroom of a small-town convenience store in northern Michigan. Those are my memories of my mom’s breast cancer. Those insignificant little moments that in no way involved me being there for my mom through all of this.
I frequently feel guilty that I couldn’t comprehend what was happening. I wasn’t supportive, I wasn’t helpful, I wasn’t encouraging; I was a normal 9 year old being a brat and complaining that I couldn’t do what I wanted to do because mom was so tired all the time. My mom and I are extremely close and to think she went through something like that without my support makes me feel sad.
My mom says she’s glad my brother and I were too young to truly understand what was going on. She says having us be normal helped her feel normal at the time, and helped her focus on life going on as opposed to the situation she was in. Still in hindsight I wish I would have been better.
Sometimes I feel like a poser when I put myself in the category of “someone affected by breast cancer”. I had it easy. I was lucky. In my mind, my mom got cancer, had surgery, had chemo, and survived. She’s fine. I didn’t have to go through any hardships, and honestly it didn’t impact my life in a hugely negative way at the time. For my mom, however, I’m sure it’s a different story. There is no smooth ride with breast cancer. It sucks. It hurts, it’s ugly, it changes your life. But honestly I think my mom got breast cancer when she did for a reason. Next year will be 20 years cancer free. In the time since she was diagnosed and cured, she has been a rock for so many of her friends who have had cancer. She has experience, she understands what they’re going through. She can give them priceless advice that she could have never given if she hadn’t gone through it herself.
The summer after my junior year in college my mom and I got matching pink ribbon tattoos (mine on my ribs, hers on her wrist). The whole thing was my idea but when we showed up at the tattoo parlor I started to get nervous and didn’t want to go. My mom is a total bad ass (and has a higher pain tolerance than anyone I know) so she went first and smiled through the whole thing. I think a large part of why I wanted to get that tattoo with her was to show my support in a way I didn’t (and probably couldn’t) back then.
Breast Cancer Awareness WOD
Tomorrow we are doing a “wear pink workout” to raise awareness for breast cancer. At all of our workouts, we will be taking a group picture “in pink”, so come prepared! The workout will include boobs to bar and boobs over bar.
Workout of the Day
40-yard prowler push (tarmac, there and back)
80-yard KB farmers carry, (end to end of gym, there and back)
200-yard sandbag shoulder carry (end of gym to end of parking, there and back)
Challenge yourself on the weight.
Work up to a 3RM power snatch
Post your scores to the whiteboard.