Imagine getting the news that your mom has cancer. Your mom. The woman that gave you life. Nurtured you. Taught and molded you. A woman to whom you owe the world.
That was my reality one Friday evening. My brother, sister and I were given the news that my mom had Mantle Cell Lymphoma. We talked about a plan and prayed for direction. There were sacrifices to be made and my mom became the center of our universe.
I remember holding my husband that night and telling him I knew everything would be alright. I already felt at peace with the diagnosis, yet I feared the battle.
As a family, we endured seven out of eight chemotherapy treatments with my mom. I say seven because the last one was almost too much. An infected port brought on a staph infection that was detrimental to her already fragile immune system. The fight was a tough one, but my mom went on to win her battle. This June marks her 3rd year of remission. And for that, I am grateful.
My mother isn’t the only brave woman I’ve witnessed fight—and win—a war against cancer. Diagnosed within 6 weeks of each other, two women I know weathered the heartbreaks and the triumphs of breast cancer together. Both women always sport a smile and hand out hugs even when they were in the midst of their battles. And together they were able to celebrate victory with a strength and character admired by many.
Unfortunately, I have also seen cancer at its worst. Lung cancer took my grandmother and an aunt within 7 months of each other. I saw a valiant 5-year-old battle DIPG (a type of brain tumor)... and lose. His fight changed my perspective.
Therefore, today I choose to be proactive. To be passionate about making a difference. To do my part to see a change. Why? Because my family is worth it.
My oldest daughter turns 18 this fall. Behind her, I have a son ready to learn to drive and a tenacious daughter entering the double digits. Not to mention, a 7-year-old princess and a curious 3-year-old with special needs. Along with their dad, they are the driving force behind everything I do.
Consequently, my husband and I decided to make lifestyle changes that include eating healthier and exercising more. We began to limit process foods, cut out sodas and cook more at home. We also started moving more.
He and I now hold each other whole-heartedly accountable as we train for the Dallas/Fort Worth Susan G. Komen 3-Day, a three day, 60-mile walk that makes us feel like we are part of something bigger than breast cancer, or any other kind of cancer. Often with our children in tow, we set our responsibilities and duties aside and take an evening walk. We admire the landscape and reflect on daily events. It has become part of our family routine and we are all better for it.
When we have time, my husband and I leave the girls home with the teens and take a more brisk walk alone. Not only are we able to push ourselves with more intensity, but we get much-needed alone time. Time we often spend reflecting on our children. Lives we pray they lead. Battles, like cancer, we hope they never face.
This passion, this driving force, leads me to work harder. Push myself further. Strive to do more. All that it takes is for me to lace up my tennis shoes after a jam-packed day with the kids and train myself to walk 20 miles a day for three consecutive days, on a mission to end breast cancer forever. To empower all cancer patients, survivors and their loved ones with every single step I take.
What has inspired you to get moving for a cause? Post a comment and tell me here.
Want to do a 3-Day in your city? Find a list of upcoming walks here.
Staci Salazar is the blogger behind 7 on a Shoestring. A mom of five, she lives in Dallas, Texas.