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What I Learned from My Mom on Our Breast Cancer Journey

When God handed out mothers — I won the lottery! Now, I will be honest, there were times when I was growing up that I didn’t always feel that way, but those times are long gone. My mother is the coolest, sweetest, strongest, most amazing woman I know, and I thank my lucky stars every day that we have each other.

We have always been close, but 2010 changed everything for us.

Me and my mom at the 2012 Congressional Women's Softball Game.
Me and my mom at the 2012 Congressional Women's Softball Game.

My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2010, and I was diagnosed with breast cancer seven months later in August 2010. Like mother, like daughter I guess. We both felt like we were on a roller coaster without a seat belt during that year — but we hung onto each other for dear life — and we made it.

When people ask me if having breast cancer as a young woman is really that different than for older women, I know firsthand how different it is. While my mother’s breast cancer is serious, and I will never downplay how hard it is on her — she already had her career, is retired and already had her family — things that I had not done yet.

I also think that with age, all people slowly lose the "illusion of immortality," as people they know and love age and pass on. However, when you are diagnosed with cancer at a young age, that "illusion" is ripped from your mind too soon — and that is very painful.

During our journey together, my mother showed me one of the most important life lessons I could ever learn: At the most challenging moment in her own life, she focused on me. Complete selflessness. I am trying to pay that incredible gift of selflessness forward in my work as YSC’s CEO and focus on young woman that need support. I will not stop until I feel confident that every young women in the United States with breast cancer knows that YSC is here and has programs and resources just for her.

This weekend when my mother is 3,000 miles away from me, I know that we will be connected in our hearts, our souls and our minds. Happy Mother’s Day to the bravest woman I know.