My aunt, Titi Tere, died of breast cancer.
As a young woman, she enjoyed going to the beach and tanning. Summer was her time! It didn’t matter what was going on in her life, she always found the time to tan. I don’t think she was aware of the dangers. If she was, she didn’t care. To her, a sunburn was a sign of youthfulness, beauty, and vitality. It gave her a glow and made her feel attractive, that is until she went to the doctor. He discovered an unusally shaped birthmark. It was skin cancer.
He removed it before it spread or at least thats what we thought. I can’t recall how, I was too young, but I do know everyone thought she was out of danger.
Sadly, she wasn’t.
During my early twenties, she developed breast cancer. It was devastating. She did radiation, had a breast removed, and tried other home remedies. It was too late. The cancer had advanced and entered other organs.
I recall those days as if they were yesterday. I wish I didn’t. She suffered. A LOT.
The radiation treatment was hard on her body. She lost her hair, couldn’t eat and got progressively worse. She was extremely bloated. Her head grew rounder and larger, while her body shrunk smaller and smaller. My Titi, my wonderfully funny, vivacious, caring Titi, was dying before my eyes. Yet her eyes, her beautiful eyes, never lost their brilliance or their humor.
She was a warrior. Going headlong into battle, keeping all the fears that were threatening to engulf the family at bay. She cut them down with laughter and her amazing wit. She became our shield, protecting us when we should have been protecting her.
During that time, I discovered I was pregnant. I was also unwed. Titi Tere was the first one to know about my teen. She was my champion. The one who stood by me, holding me up, as my family desserted me for conceiving my precious child out of wedlock. I still recall her laying in that hospital bed, using the little bit of energy she had to persuade the others to see reason, to tell them they could not force me to abort my child. She knew the value of life. She was fighting for her own.
She failed in her persuasions, just as her body failed her. Her body was racked with pain and suffering but her mind, her spirit, fought to the end. She was not only a survivor, she was a fighter. Her fight was an inspiration, her battle a curse…one that so many women face today.
October is breast cancer awareness month. I go pink for Titi Tere. I go pink for all the Sisters, Mothers, Aunts, Friends that are affected by this disease.
I also want to support the companies that do as well, like Ralph Lauren.
Ralph Lauren created the Pink Pony initiative, 10 years ago in an effort to raise awareness.
The company also launched its first Pink Pony Online Auction in partnership with luxury charity auction site charitybuzz. The auction will showcase over 300 unique items and once-in-a-lifetime experiences allowing bidders to step into the world of Ralph Lauren with items ranging from luxury travel, art, sports, fashion and rare collectibles. 100% of net proceeds from this auction will benefit the Pink Pony Fund of The Polo Ralph Lauren Foundation. The online auction runs through October 21st at www.charitybuzz.com/RalphLauren
Pink Pony supports programs for early diagnosis, education, treatment and breast cancer research. It is dedicated to bringing patient navigation and quality cancer care to medically under served communities. Sadly, Latinas are a huge part of that community. For that reason I applaud Ralph Lauren for giving ten percent of the Pink Pony product proceeds to the Pink Pony Fund.
I may have lost Titi Tere to breast cancer but her legacy continues in what she taught me during her last days. She taught me that we cannot accept the status quo. We must fight even when it looks bleak.
We must fight for what is right regardless of what battles we, ourselves, may be facing.
Fighting Breast Cancer is right.
THIS. IS. RIGHT.