Hi Everyone- welcome to Love, Local on this beautiful evening. And thank you for supporting Runway for recovery and such an amazing cause.
My name is Alissa Christie, I live here in Newburyport, with my husband and two daughters. I’m here to tell the story about my beautiful mother, who was my best friend – and her 18 year battle with breast cancer that ultimately took her life 6 years ago.
I reflect back on that day almost 25 years ago, when my mom accompanied me to a doctors appointment for my annual check up. I was a college student at the time. The oldest daughter of three. I wanted my mother to come with me to the appointment. At the check-in, the receptionist mentioned to my mom that she hadn’t had a mammogram recently, so they were able to fit her in that day.
My mom was exactly the age I am right now, 45 years old.
The mammogram came back with HR positive breast cancer, having spread to some of her lymph nodes. The first thought that went my head was how is this happening – my mother can’t die. She is the strongest person I know! she fought hard – was treated with chemo and radiation and years of Tamoxofin and you know what? She went into remission. There were several bumps and scares along the way but at the 10 year mark she was still in remission. With this milestone, the doctors tookher off of Tamoxifen – and we all believed breast cancer was a thing of the past. we even celebrated.
A few years later, about 17 years after my moms initial diagnosis, we learned about this thing called Metastatic Breast Cancer. The breast cancer came back as a triple negative but in her bones, liver and ultimately her brain. It caught us all off guard.
My mom fought so hard. She put on a happy face. She joined so many support groups where she could lean on others and provide support for those who were going through the same thing. It was amazing to me how she was always able to form new friendships and be a friend to others so easily. She researched new treatments for Metastatic Breast Cancer and was so determined to live. We believed she would find the treatment that would give us many more years, but the cancer was too aggressive and she passed at 63 years old.
The truth is, I’m grateful that we had another 18 years with my mom. We were so lucky. She was here to support my sisters and I through our young adult life and she was here to see all of her grand babies born.
I struggle now with dark thoughts. When will breast cancer impact our family again. Will it be me? My sisters? My daughters? Does it skip a generation?
Without support groups like Runway for Recovery, these thoughts lead down a slippery slope of anxiety, worry and constant fear.
It’s amazing to live in a community that is so supportive and passionate no matter whose story it is. We all seem to be impacted by breast cancer in one way or another. All the love that is present in our community, all the love that is here tonight, is what gives me, and others the strength to keep going.
My mom used to tell my sisters and I that we were her hero’s; and the wind beneath her wings. She would sing it loud! Standing here tonight, I hope everyone here can find the courage and strength, and the wind beneath your winds, no matter situation, to keep flying high.