When we're younger, we're so lucky to live innocent, stress-free lives. But, as we grow up, life happens. Reality hits and we are faced with tough obstacles that we can choose to either go through or grow though. My 76 year-old fighter of an aunt (my dad's sister) is one of the strongest people I know. She chose to grow through her breast cancer fight and is now a 2x survivor.
When my dad was 24, him and his sisters Zoraida (pictured here) and Zulema lost their mother, my grandmother, to breast cancer. What many people don't know is that about 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in their lifetime.
In 1994, my Tia Zoraida was diagnosed with breast cancer. After having 21 lymph nodes removed, she thought she was in the clear. 11 years later, they found cancer in the same breast again. After a mastectomy, two years of draining, a reconstruction and a whole lot of ups and downs, she was finally cancer-free in 2007.
Today, my vibrant, funny, filled-with-life aunt wants to share a bit of advice with everyone. If she hadn't gotten a mammogram at the age of 51, she would have never found her cancer. Because she did find it early, we're able to enjoy these amazing, laughter-filled moments with her today.
I asked her what advice she would have for my beautiful Aria Rose Girls, and here's what she said:
When you have God, you should never be afraid to face anything in life because you know He is there for you.
Aria Rose Girls, at the end of the day, we can only hope to have an endless amount of time with those we love and cherish. Encourage your friends and family to get checked, go with them and be their support system - do it together. That one appointment can save your life. There's so many things in life we may regret or wish we did differently - don't let it be this.
We pray for peace for those who have lost their lives to breast cancer and we pray for hope and strength for those who are still fighting. This month, we will have our "Strong is the new pretty" tee, which you can purchase here. 10% of the proceeds will be going to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. We only hope to help and support strong women like my Tia Zoraida and my Abuela Maria Luisa. You are strong, you are fearless and you are pretty.
Here's to strong women - may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.