Mark’s Note: While I have had “guest posts” in the past, this one was really written by someone else, my daughter Casey, who is due to give birth in May. She keeps a diary which she one day intends to share with her daughter. This is a recent entry.
Dear Baby Girl,
This past Saturday, you got your middle name. About a year and a half ago, your great uncle Gary died, very suddenly and shockingly. This past Saturday, your Great Aunt Gwen lost her battle with breast cancer. Your middle name is in honor of both of these amazing and strong humans beings that I wish you had the pleasure of knowing.
As you carry your middle name, there is something I want you to always remember. Get yourself checked. Go to the doctor regularly. Be proactive with your health. You see, if Gwen had heeded this advice, she might have been around to meet you.
Your Grandma once had breast cancer and as a precaution, had a oophorectomy. But it turned out it wasn’t precautionary; upon removal, doctors discovered she had ovarian cancer as well. They had caught it extraordinarily early, because of the breast cancer. The breast cancer saved her life.
Your grandma beat both cancers, and all of the women in our family got checked for the gene mutation that caused grandma to have both of these cancers at such a young age.
Except Gwen. She didn’t get checked.
Eleven years passed and then Gwen discovered she had a lump. She was diagnosed with a later stage of breast cancer. She beat it, thankfully, but didn’t continue taking the medication needed to help prevent its return. And it did return, this time ravaging other organs in her body.
So last Saturday, Grandma and Great Aunt Karen lost their sister, and you lost the chance to meet an incredible woman.
Fair warning, though: Gwen told me a week before she died that she was going to haunt you, so if you ever encounter a ghostly being in a Boston Bruins jersey, don’t be afraid.
Mark’s note: While the baby’s middle name will be in honor of Gwen and Gary, we don’t know what it will be yet. In my next post, I’ll tell you why.
See you soon.
P.S. There are many websites with more information about the BRCA gene mutation that can cause breast and ovarian cancer. This one is a quick read. If you would like to support breast cancer research, Gwen’s family has requested that donations be sent to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.