Let’s paint her pink this October: Breast Cancer Awareness

pink_liberty

Fulfilling the Promise

Nancy G. Brinker promised her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever. In 1982, that promise became Susan G. Komen® and launched the global breast cancer movement. Today, Komen has invested more than $2.5 billion to fulfill our promise, working to end breast cancer in the U.S. and throughout the world through ground-breaking research, community health outreach, advocacy and programs in more than 30 countries.

Progress in the Fight Against Breast Cancer

Since 1982, Komen has played a critical role in every major advance in the fight against breast cancer – transforming how the world talks about and treats this disease and helping to turn millions of breast cancer patients into breast cancer survivors. We are proud of our contribution to some real victories:

  • More early detection and effective treatment– Currently, about 70 percenft of women 40 and older receive regular mammograms, the single most effective screening tool to find breast cancer early.  Since 1990, early detection and effective treatment have resulted in a 34 percent decline in breast cancer mortality in the U.S.
  • More hope –In 1980, the 5-year relative survival rate for women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer (cancer confined to the breast) was about 74 percent. Today, that number is 99 percent.
  • More research – The federal government now devotes more than $850 million each year to breast cancer research, treatment and prevention (compared to $30 million in 1982).
  • More survivors – Currently, there are about 3 million breast cancers survivors, the largest group of cancer survivors in the U.S.

 

Bootstrapping my life.

Every year since I met my wife Chelsea, has been better than the last. As I type, it’s been just about 5 days since my wife, my daughter and I welcomed a new baby into our lives. A beautiful baby boy we named Abram. This completes a very big goal for me and I am ecstatic.

I’m not writing this post to brag or show off. I’m not writing this post to document something incredible, although incredible it is. I write because I want to share my experiences with my friends, family and anyone that is interested. I write in the hopes that it would bring some optimism to anyone going through a difficult time. That no matter how difficult, that things may change for the positive quickly. All it takes is the realization that you are in control of your present and your future.

I won’t go into much detail but in 2006 I went through what one would call a stormy period in my life. It was a challenging time for me and certainly a very low point. Compared to other tragedies, mine was seemingly a speed bump, a blip on the radar. However at the time, it did affect me greatly and much like others I turned to bad habits to overcome emotional turmoil. I went through a period of drinking heavily, not leaving the house or the opposite of not coming home for days. I remember being simply confused.

There was a night that I spent a few hours sitting in my truck in the parking lot of a local grocery store. The rain was pouring around me. I was sitting and watching the rain as I didn’t want to go home and for some reason I couldn’t muster the ability to go inside the store and find something for dinner. Strange as it might seem, I drove to the store just to sit in a parking lot in the rain. I watched as people and families went on with their shopping. In and out of the store they went, despite the rain. I thought how strange it was that each person may be experiencing joy, pain or otherwise and we are all completely isolated in our abilities to fully comprehend what others may truly be experiencing.

Some people need interventions, but people will tell you they only work when someone actually wants to change. I decided that night that I really wanted something better for myself. It wasn’t something profound that I witnessed to make me realize this, but it was the things I could not comprehend about others. In reality we are alone in our thoughts and emotion. In programming there is a term called “bootstrapping”, this is derived from the story of Baron Munchausen. The story goes that the Baron, trapped in a swamp, pulls himself out by his bootstraps. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t seek help from others but simply that you have all the power and ability to change things for yourself.

I went home that night and thought about the things that I wanted. What I wanted the most was to be with a wonderful partner, get married and have a family. This was my decision and to achieve it, I had to make changes. The first change was obvious. I had to snap out of the slump I was in. Easier said than done, right? I quickly made a list of things I knew were good habits. Things that would better my ability to find someone I wanted to be with. I worked on controlling my reaction to my emotional state. Everytime I felt sad, I would try to find a positive habit to focus on like reading, writing, playing music or simply watching online tutorials. Before I knew it I had taught myself several different programming languages. Rather than drinking, I began exercising. Rather than hiding away in my house, I got out and socialized more. I also wholeheartedly dropped the walls I’d built up and approached people I would normally shy from.

Because of this, I met my wife Chelsea in 2006 by putting myself “out there”. In normal circumstances, I would have never approached her but I did. I also felt like I was a better person, more willing to commit to things and because of my positive habits, I was more confident. Certainly knowing my goal was to meet a person I wanted to share a life with, I believe I saw her with new eyes. From the moment I spoke with her, I began to appreciate her honesty, kindness, intelligence, humor and pure potential to be an amazing partner and mother. With some discussion and playful teasing from friends, I had asked her out on a date. She accepted and eventually I charmed her enough for second date.

A year later, I asked Chelsea to marry me. Another year later she gave me a beautiful girl we named Amelia and finally our boy Abram. Each year has been better than the last. The beauty of completing a goal is the rewards you can reap. I get to wake up everyday with two beautiful children and an incredible wife. Now all that seems easy right? It wasn’t and it won’t be for you. The most difficult part was accepting my piece in my happiness and deciding I wanted to change things. It was the acceptance that changing things was possible. The great thing about habits is they are just that, habits. Once you begin doing them, they become second nature. Once you begin it all falls into place.

I am telling each and every one of you that if you feel stuck, if you feel like you can’t get away from heartache, that you possess the ability to overcome and make your life better. It all starts with a decision and a little bootstrapping.