Every October, professional football teams wear pink socks, people put stickers and magnets on the backs of their cars, and even Pinewood’s own teams dress up. It is normal to completely cover oneself in pink during this month; one might even say that it is expected.
What many might not realize is that breast cancer can affect everyone–Pinewood students included.
Enter sophomore Alexa Brown, whose aunt had breast cancer a few years ago. Because it was caught during its later stages, she received chemotherapy for three years. She lost all of her hair due to chemo and had several surgeries before she successfully overcame the cancer.
“It makes me want to somehow try and make it better, but I don’t know how to,” Brown said.
She feels that it is important to raise awareness, as breast cancer is a serious issue that needs more funding.
Spanish teacher Aurora Collantes has two close friends who have experienced breast cancer, one of whom is currently undergoing chemotherapy. This friend’s breast cancer was only discovered in August, but luckily it was in the very early stages. It was shocking for Collantes’ friend at first, but she is very optimistic. Collantes said that originally it was hard for her, because both of her two best friends had to undergo a life-altering diagnosis. However, despite this, she continues to try to keep everything positive. Her other friend’s cancer was detected much later, and throughout the whole treatment there was an uncertainty of whether or not she would be alright.
“Sometimes when you hear it, you just go to the worst-case scenario,” said Collantes.“[But] I think the early detection is really important.”
Freshman Morgan van der Linde has also had a close experience with breast cancer. A few years ago, her mother was diagnosed and battled it for about six months. She went through chemotherapy, which was successful, but she still has problems with standing and stamina. However, van der Linde’s mother has a happy demeanor that was not affected much by the experience.
Van der Linde says that there was a lot of crying, and that while her mother had cancer, the family had a motto of “This sucks!” as a way to face what was happening.
She was only 11 years old at the time, but her friends were always there to support her. One misconception she has noticed is that people think that women who get breast cancer keep their short hair afterwards, which isn’t necessarily true.
Pinewood’s college counselor Robin Acosta has also had a mother with breast cancer. Acosta was studying abroad in Columbia when she received a telegram and a plane ticket home. Her mother was already in the hospital, but insisted that Acosta return to Columbia to finish her exchange program. A few months later, she received another telegram informing her that her mother had taken a turn for the worse.
Acosta’s mother only lived another month. It was immensely difficult for Acosta, who was 17 at the time, and her siblings, as their father had also passed away earlier that year.
“There’s not just one way that you can say that that affects you because it bleeds off and permeates into every aspect of your life,” said Acosta. “My mother fought a warrior’s fight and didn’t survive. All that she taught me and my siblings about life, living, and love, however, did survive–and that is one of the many beautiful gifts she gave to us.”
Every October, the words “breast cancer awareness” are everywhere, and for good reason. Thousands of men and women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, and while battles are won everyday, the war is far from over.