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Alexandria Councilwoman Shares Mom’s Cancer Story: “Red Lipstick, Pink Robe”

By Amy Jackson

ALEXANDRIA, VA – As many of you may know, my Mom just celebrated her 80th birthday at the end of September. That wasn’t always a given. My mother received her breast cancer diagnosis during my sophomore year of high school – she was 46 years old. Young. Very young. My world, as an only child of a single mother, collapsed. I was devastated. My studies lapsed. My grades not at expectation. Gut punch.

The smart and strong woman that she is, she had researched every concern of her diagnosis to protect me and to prepare for our future. She had undergone every biopsy, every test before divulging our obstacle to me. I was 15. I know exactly where we were when she told me. She was driving me to T.C. [Williams High School] that morning. We had stopped at the light at Alexandria Hospital at N. Howard and Seminary. She didn’t take her eyes off the road. Driving a 1969 Plymouth Valiant, she was wearing slingback peach shoes. Peach suit coat and skirt. There was no one else in my universe. Just my mom.

The day had come for her mastectomy. My learner’s permit got us — my aunt and grandmother – to Georgetown Hospital driving thru DC like a pro at 15, and them in awe and thankful that I could drive in D.C. (as they visited from rural New Hampshire and their traffic being non-existent…). She became one of the first at Georgetown Hospital to have the new reconstructive breast cancer surgery in 1986, and after successful surgery, became a trusted advisor for doctors and patients alike when personal experiences needed a confidant for dialogue and navigating.

After my Mom’s surgery, we arrived at the hospital during visiting hours. My grandmother, my aunt, and me. We entered her room… me thinking the worst of what [I] would see after surgery and vowing I’d be strong and take care of her. She didn’t need me to take care of her. Or she wouldn’t allow it is a better explanation. We walked into the room and there was my mom – sitting up in bed, her Fire and Ice Revlon Red lipstick on and lounging in a plush terry-cloth fushia pink robe. Not standard hospital issue. Her smile lit up the room as she welcomed us. Regal and composed. Calm. As far as she was concerned, the obstacle had been overcome and there was more life to live. That’s what she portrayed. That’s what happened. She was right. My mom has been a survivor of breast cancer for 34 years.

Unfortunately, many have died as we have continued to try to find a cure for breast cancer. Unified, we carry the torch for those that have lost their loved ones to this disease and the many breast cancer survivors. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As we continue bringing awareness to this disease and fundraising for the research for a cure, please continue to support family and friends stricken with this disease, and rise to the challenge in order to overcome this! One in 8 women in the United States (12%) will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Over 300,000 will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. Join our team to bring awareness to this disease and assist in this cause.

Sign up to participate virtually on my team this month!  #WalktoBustCancer #RedLipstickandPinkRobe

To learn more about the Walk to Bust Cancer and how to donate, find other fundraising teams or how to START YOUR OWN virtual walk team, click here.

ICYMI: Food Drive for Local Alexandria Hospitality Workers in October


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