Every year when I stand on that big stage at the Hatchshell for the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk, I see thousands of people. They are mothers, sisters, best friends. They are husbands, fathers and sons, who walk to find a cure for a disease that takes the women we love from us each and every day.
I always tell my story from that stage and as much as I try to hold it together, I cry.
It's the story of a girl who was 14 when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was an only child and her parents were divorced. Throughout high school, the girl watched her mother's health decline. First she lost one breast and then the other. Then the cancer traveled from breast to bones and the girl was always worried about what might happen next. But her mother was independent and strong, brave and defiant. “I'll be fine” she said...and insisted that the girl attend Boston College. She would drive home every weekend to visit her mother and check in on her. And when the girl's freshman year was complete, she arrived home in Connecticut to find her mother in bed. The cancer had traveled to her liver and she was orange from head to toe. The girl called 911 and followed the ambulance to Hartford Hospital where her mother laid in bed for 4 days. And the girl sat...and watched...and hoped and prayed.
And then one day, a very kind nurse came into the room and asked the girl to follow her. Down the hall they went as the nurse searched for a private place to sit and talk. She opened the door to a dark supply closet and asked the girl to come inside. The nurse reached up and pulled a cord to turn on the light. The girl saw mops and brooms and cleaning equipment and then the nurse took her hand and put it on her breast. The girl could tell that the nurse had lost her breast, just like her mom.
And then the nurse said: “Some of us with breast cancer make it. I'm one of the lucky ones. Your mother is going to be dead in 24 hours.”
And she was.
I'm Candy O'Terry...the girl in the supply closet.
And when I stand on that stage again this Sunday and look out on a sea of thousands of faces...good, kind, people who walk as warriors in the fight against breast cancer I am going to say:
I'm Marjorie's daughter and I am with you every step of the way. XoRadio Girl
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