Monday Moms: Learning Curve
By Becca Brett Leish
Board Member, Komen Atlanta
So I remember going over to my parents’ house for what I thought was going to be normal quality family time, and what I learned that night would change my family forever. We were hanging out in the kitchen and, after the typical catch-up, my mom sat on the couch and said something about lymph nodes and cancerous cells in her breast. She was seemingly calm, matter-of-fact and just looked at me, as if waiting for a reaction. I didn’t react. I didn’t know what she was talking about. And being that my father is a doctor, I suppose I should have known what those words meant. But I didn’t. So my dad spoke up and said, “mom has breast cancer.” I had to hear the words and say them to make them real—to me. The reality was, the breast cancer was very real inside my mom. Then came the reaction. The most painful part was seeing my mom cry. This beautiful, fun, smart, strong woman who was so full of life, I had never seen her so truly sad. I know she was scared. We were all scared. But what she seemed to be most sad about was the thought of not being there for me, my brother and sister–and my dad. Her words are forever imprinted in my heart: “You are too young to not have a mom.” She was right. At 25, I was too young to lose her. At 52, she was too young to lose her life 10 months after her diagnosis of what we learned was an incredible aggressive cancer. It’s now been more than 12 years since her passing and, what I always say is that, I haven’t moved on, I’ve moved forward. She is imprinted in my heart. She is in my daily thoughts, and my children have come to know her through the stories we tell about Grandma Ann. Life goes on, life has to go on. She would absolutely want all of us to lead a full and happy life—which we do to honor her memory. It was this life-changing disease that motivated me to get involved and give back locally with Komen for the Cure. As a board member, I am able to leverage and combine my passion for the cause with my professional experience in a way that is meaningful and supports the wonderful Atlanta community which I have been a part of for more than three decades.
In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Komen Atlanta is kicking off a new online initiative called “Monday Moms” that gives mothers a chance to discuss the unique challenges of being a mother with breast cancer – for example, the impact on their families, how they’ve discussed their illness with their children, how they managed the pain of treatment with little ones underfoot, etc. Monday Moms also can give people whose mothers have breast cancer a chance to post their own challenges, points of view or questions. Our goal is to give people in this community a place to celebrate successes, mourn losses or just plain vent about their experiences with breast cancer. We also want to give people a space to share stories, create a dialogue with others and feel heard.