Letter: Charlotte McConnell, Sterling

Editor: Jan. 26 is my 37th birthday and the last birthday I share with my breasts. People usually think of their mothers on their birthday, and I do, but I also think about my mother’s breast, which nursed me in infancy and lead to her early death at age 60.

I can’t remember if it was the day before or after my 24th birthday that my mother had her mastectomy. I know she felt guilty for having her mastectomy so near my birthday but I never wanted her to feel that way. My mother had triple negative breast cancer that metastasized to her liver. She died on Oct. 15, 2005, just six days after my wedding. We were on our honeymoon in Hawaii when we got the call to come home. She passed before we made it home to say good bye. My maternal aunt had breast cancer 36 years ago. Her daughter was diagnosed three years ago and nine months ago another of my maternal aunts was diagnosed with breast cancer

I have tested negative for BRCA 1 and BRCA 2, but my family history of breast cancer cannot be ignored. I have been seeing a breast surgeon for more than three years. We have decided together that a bilateral risk reducing mastectomy is in the best interest of my health. I’m not going to wait for breast cancer to be found in my breasts. Every time I feel discomfort in my breast, I worry that it is my turn for cancer. I have also been living with MS for over a decade. I am healthy now but who knows for how long. I know the pain of losing your mother too early and I want to save my 2 children from that pain. I nursed my boys for a combined total of 44 months. I was eager to wean my youngest at 18 months because I was worried about my breast health.

Losing a loved one to breast cancer is not unique to me as I have known many other women who have died of breast cancer. It is estimated that 319,220 women and 2,470 men in the United Sates this year will be diagnosed with breast cancer. How many of these men and women rely on Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screenings? How many of them will go undetected if they don’t have access to Planned Parenthood? How many of these women will die this year which will create a void in their families that will never be filled? I miss my mother every day and wish she could have met her grandchildren. I wish she could be with me when I have my mastectomy. One of the many reasons I support Planned Parenthood is in the hopes that they can prevent more people from dying from breast cancer. We need to ensure that people have access to life saving cancer screenings which are provided by Planned Parenthood.

Charlotte McConnell, Sterling

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