When Breast Cancer Happens to Your Family

“Are you crying? Why are you crying??” were the first words I said to my sister when she called to discuss our mom’s diagnosis of breast cancer. I had just gotten off the phone with my mom and was sitting in the parking lot of the Pea in the Pod, waiting for it to open so I could return a dress for my sister-in-law. Funny how I could not tell you what I did four days ago, but that day is imprinted in my mind.

My mom had just called me and very nonchalantly said that yes, she had breast cancer but really, it was fine. She told me she had the “old lady” version that rarely kills anyone, not the “young mom” version which does. My mom speaks with the utmost authority on most things and I was so reassured, I truly didn’t feel any worry. I was more worried about getting out of the Galleria before lunchtime. 

My baby sister on the other hand was beside herself with worry. And tears. She promptly told me that she was entitled to her feelings and that everyone handles hard news differently and DON’T TELL HER NOT TO CRY. Fair, totally fair {and I did apologize}.

My mom {and I} love an audience for a story to tell or wisdom to impart, but NOT when we are at a weak point. She told us that we did not need to come for the surgery {baby sister ignored her} and I drove up to Denton for her week of treatment, also against her wishes. It was tiring and uncomfortable for her, but she pushed through and has been cancer free for three years now, even completing the 3 Day Walk for Breast Cancer with my sister the following year. 

When Breast Cancer Happens to Your Family | Houston Moms Blog 

After my mom mentioned the “old lady” cancer, I did some research and the numbers are pretty staggering {40,920 breast cancer deaths in 2018 alone}. I had to admit that my cold dead heart and I had begun to take the pink ribbons for granted. They are so pervasive during the month of October, I am ashamed to admit that I had begun to overlook the fact that there are people behind those ribbons. Families, friends and partners whose lives are forever changed by this disease. It took my own mom getting diagnosed with breast cancer for my self-centered eyes to be opened.

My mother-in-law also had breast cancer back in 2001. I recently interviewed her about her experience and found similarities to my mom’s with one big difference. The treatment my mom received in 2015 was light years ahead of that my mother-in-law received in 2001. Advances no doubt due to the awareness and funding of Susan G. Komen, the American Cancer Society and the local Houston rock star MD Anderson Cancer Center. She is fine too PS and super happy with her care at MD Anderson {she would want me to include that}.

When Breast Cancer Happens to Your Family | Houston Moms Blog

In case you are like me {I totally understand if you don’t want to own up to it} here are the latest things YOU need to know about the big C, thanks to the American Cancer Society.

  • A woman living in the US has a 1-in-8, lifetime risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer
  • Overall breast cancer death rates increased by 0.4% per year from 1975 to 1989, but since have decreased rapidly, for a total decline of 39% through 2015
  • The decrease occurred in both younger and older women, but has slowed among women younger than 50 since 2007
  • The decline in breast cancer mortality has been attributed to both improvements in treatment and early detection

So yes, you need a mammogram. If you are 40-45 it is optional, but over 45 it is not. And really, why not?? Yes, it is uncomfortable, but we are all moms now. We have done WAY more uncomfortable stuff than to have our boobies squished for a bit. I would take that over getting hit in the face with a Tonka truck any day. Or stepping on a Lego barefoot like I did 30 minutes ago.

Alas, for those of us who prefer to let the ladies roam free, “A recent population-based study of more than 1,500 women found no association between wearing a bra and breast cancer.” I mean good news, totally good news.

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Kinsey is a native Texan originally from Denton, but left as soon as she could {no offense to Denton; other people should totally live there}. After graduating from the University of Texas with a degree in elementary education, she taught first grade for a hot minute. She quickly learned that her passion was actually telling adults what to do, and thus realized a career in marketing and event planning was a much better match. She married Alex in 2005, who legitimately thinks Houston is the best city in the world, which means she is here forever. She worked until 2013 when she retired (and refuses to say she is unemployed). Together they have two boys, Zachary {December 2008} and James {July 2011} which means she spends every afternoon, evening, Saturday, and many Sundays sitting at a field or court for whatever sport is being played at that particular moment and fending off snack requests. Also that she’s on a first name basis with the workers at Chick-fil-A. Hi Debra! Follow Kinsey on Instagram @makejokesnotmoney.


  1. I began having mammograms at age 35 because my mother had breast cancer at age 46-47 in about 1971, I had to get a permission slip in order to have my first mammogram. Now, at 61, I guess I’ve had 26 of them. Mother had a single, contained lump but at that time, they took the whole breast. She laughed and quipped that they might have just moved her remaining breast to the middle so she wouldn’t be imbalanced. She lived to be 87, still young as far as I’m concerned, but never had a recurrence.


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