Last summer, when I went back to the coast for my 20-year reunion, we didn't think Teresa Johnson was going to make it back.
You see, Teresa had been undergoing treatment for breast cancer. In the summer of 2004, she was scheduled to undergo reconstruction surgery. But I guess she was able to reschedule her surgery, because she was at the reunion. And she was a fabulous addition to our party.
Teresa was one of my first junior high friends. She was my first friend in the neighborhood with a pool. I spent a lot of time at her house. I smoked my first cigarette at her birthday slumber party in 7th grade. I had a bike accident in front of her house that kept me out of school for a week.
Teresa was one of my oldest Long Beach, Miss. friends.
When she returned home from the reunion last summer, Teresa's doctors discovered that her breast cancer had metastasized to her bone marrow. For those of you who didn't spend the last eight years working for a childhood cancer research center, let me assure you: this is very, very serious.
I have been following Teresa's progress on her blog. To save you the trouble of reading her archives, let me give you the most recent: Teresa has written her farewell letters to her two young children and has already arranged for hospice in order to save her family the pain.
It's heartbreaking, really, when you think of it. Think of your children, who you love more than life itself. And then realize that you are leaving them. Forever. You won't be there to see them graduate. Marry. Have children. And you have to say your goodbyes in letters. That you write. Before you die.
Please think of it. Let it hurt.
Some of you may have had the Race for the Cure in your city recently. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It never seemed to matter that much to me before. It's not in my genetic history. I'm not at high risk. I had my benchmark mammogram at 35. I'm OK so far.
But Teresa, she's trying to find a way to say goodbye to her two young children.
When My Kid was born, I used to have these horrible fears that I would lose him...that he would die from SIDS or that someone would steal him from me. I thought it was the worst thing that could ever happen.
And then I realized that the MOST horrible thing that could happen would be that I would die. Losing him would break my heart. But losing me would mean that HE would suffer. And that was almost impossible to fathom.
It's completely heartbreaking.
If you have the opportunity to run or walk in you city, please make the commitment. So many of us will be affected by breast cancer before we know it.
Make your donations now. It may be too late to save Teresa's children from their pain, but it may not be too late for your grandchildren.