When you write for Care2.com, you never know how you’ll touch someone’s life or how it’ll come back to you. Back in July of 2011, as I was going through treatment for triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), I wrote about Carmelita P, a 57-year-old nurse who lost her life to the disease.
Last week I received an email from her son, Joseph, whom I interviewed for the original story. He wrote the email on the fifth anniversary of his mother’s passing, saying that each year, he finds himself re-reading the story again. “The pain is just as fresh as before,” he said.
He had a simple request. He wanted me to re-run the article in honor of his mother. You can read the original article here on Care2 Causes: Grieving Son Recounts Mom’s Battle with Triple-Negative Breast Cancer.
“Every so often,” he told me, “someone will email me at ThankYouMom912@gmail.com to talk about their experiences, to offer support, or to ask for support. It always feels good when we can help others or talk with others who are dealing with, or who have dealt with, a similar loss.”
Just 25 years old when his mother’s routine mammogram turned out to be anything but routine, Joseph now runs Carmelita Group, a marketing agency for nonprofit organizations.
He signed off by asking me about my health and thanking me for “telling my Mom’s story and for being an ear to listen.” The stories we tell here are meant to make a difference, even if only in a small way. We tell stories of love and loss, of life and death. We talk about food and the environment and politics and health. We make people laugh and cry and share. Sometimes we hit the mark, sometimes we fall flat. Hopefully, we succeed in giving you something to ponder.
When we get direct feedback like Joseph’s, it lets us know that what we do matters. Whether we consider ourselves to be writers or activists or both, it’s a good feeling to know that we’re making a difference.
Thank you, Joseph, for letting me share your story. I’m sure Carmelita would be proud of her son. Thank you, Care2.com, for giving me the platform to do it. And thank you to all the Josephs who turn their grief into kindness toward others.
About Triple-Negative Breast Cancer
TNBC represents about 10-20 percent of all breast cancers, according to the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation. This sub-type tests negative for estrogen, progesterone, and HER2 receptors. There are no targeted treatments for TNBC, but it generally responds to chemotherapy.
TNBC is very aggressive. It tends to recur at a higher rate than other breast cancers in the first five years. It is more common in women who carry BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations, younger women, and those who are of African-American or Hispanic descent.
Because some breast cancers can be very fast-growing, it’s worth having breast lumps checked out. Fortunately, most lumps turn out to be noncancerous.
Photo of Carmelita courtesy of Joseph P
Main post photo: Jacob Wackerhausen, photographer | iStock | Thinkstock