Today may be Halloween but it is also the last day of October. That means its the last day of the month of October and the last day I could put off writing this post. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This was something as a woman that you always think about but it usually stays at the back of your mind unless you or your family is touched by it. Unfortunately my family will forever be touched by this illness and we lost one of the most important people. Dale Marie Babin.
I don’t remember the date but I remember the day that she came to my house to tell me something was wrong. She always suffered with health issues especially her asthma but nothing seemed life threatening. My cousin Randi is a special needs child and within the last few years we discovered she has a diseased that could be cured with treatments. She was having those treatments at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital and it was a returning trip home that started all of this for us. My Nanie called and said to meet her outside in the driveway. This was not uncommon. She often stopped to tell me a story, drop off some food or just say hello when she was passing. I walked out and she rolled down the window and said a few weeks ago my mammogram came back with some abnormalities and they did a biopsy and they called while we were on the trip to tell me there is cancer in my breast. She said it so matter of fact. There is some cancer in my breast. When I started to tear up she said not to worry. They caught it as quickly as they could and that she would going to the doctor the next week to discuss treatment option.
She ended up having a mastectomy. She stayed in high spirits about it though telling me how much nicer her back was going to feel to get that weight off her chest and how cool her tattooed nipple would be when she got her implant. Well the time went along and it was time for another pet scan. Still cancer. It was at this time that she told me what type it was. HER2-Positive. Being the crazy person I am I started contacting a friend who is well versed in medical knowledge to tell me everything. I made her be as brutally honest with me as she could. And she was…it just didn’t sink in at the time. This couldn’t kill her. People will breast cancer are fine all of the time. I am now aware and should have accepted at the time this this is probably the worst form of breast cancer anyone can get. This is one of the most aggressive forms of breast cancer.
She started chemo and she did well. She hated losing her hair but she got a fancy Raquel Welch wig an she worked it. She joked about her missing boob and she never ever let anyone know if she was down or hurting. When the chemo was done and the scans came back the cancer had mutated. Worst of all the cancer mutated to her lungs. Her lungs were already so weak from her asthma. She had spent a half dozen times in the hospital on CPAP machines, on oxygen and constantly doing treatments. At this time her doctor here in town was very honest. He wanted her to have the best care but he didn’t want her to be his experiment. His suggestion was that she take her case to MD Anderson in Texas where the best of the best were.
She, along with my Uncle and cousin, made the pilgrimage to Texas regularly. Always different doctors, blood work, creating a team. She was set to do experimental drug trials, radiation and chemo pills. She did not complain one time. She did not say she was going to die in front of me EVER. Her spirit is what kept us going. Her will to live is what kept us pushing to keep her treatment going. She was the reason we got her for longer that we should have.
In December she was struggling with fluid around her lungs. She was on oxygen and constantly short of breathe. She had a tube inserted and was having a home health nurse over regularly to drain the fluid. One day while waiting for the nurse to come she went to walk up her porch stairs and she fell. She fell hard. She had a black eye, she her hurt foot, she was sore everywhere. Luckily the nurse came soon after and called 911. At the hospital they did another scan. The worst fear of ours was true. The cancer had spread not only to her lungs but now to her brain. She again visited MD Anderson and did radiation on her brain. It was just too strong for her.
She made it to Christmas and New Years. She made it to my nephews 1st birthday party where she was completely delighted with herself because he liked her present best. She was there to see my sisters get engaged. But in the end it was too much for her. In February I went to Disney with work while she was in the hospital. I was hesitate to go but she assured me she was fine and she would see me when she got back. I came home on Tuesday and visited her on Ash Wednesday the next day. I still didn’t get it. I didn’t know what was about to happen. I didn’t realize it had gotten so far.
On Thursday I got a call from my sister after visiting that morning that my uncle was calling in hospice. How? I just saw her. She wasn’t great but she couldn’t be that close could she? I left work immediately and spent the entire day there. My sister tried on her wedding dress and she smiled and said how pretty she was. The next morning my other sister snapped a selfie with her and her pose was duck lips. This could not be someone who was dying. I went over early to visit and took some pictures with her myself. It had been a long few days and my sisters and I were going home to grab food and rest before coming back. It wouldn’t be long before we got the call that it was happening. She was going to pass that day. How can you possibly know that? My nanie can’t die? Not now? She is going to miss so much? Morgan has to get married. I have to adopt a kid. Marlyn has to elope and surprise us with another baby. We have to go to Disney together. We haven’t gone to mountains for Thanksgiving like she always wanted. This just can’t be true! But it was. And it was in her living room while she was surrounding by her family that she peacefully left this world. My family was devastated. She was a core part of our being. 8 months later we still feel her lose. I don’t think that will ever go away.
My nanie was fearless, fiercely loyal and honest to a fault. She loved her babies. She loved her friends. She knew everyone and everyone loved her. She was something special. She was a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, an aunt and so much more. I selfishly wish she were still with us every single day. But I know the pain has stopped.
Breast Cancer effects 1 in 8 women in the USA every year. 95% of those women are 40 and older. Yearly screenings and monthly checks for breast cancer has reduced the risk of death by 30-40% since 1990. Each year over 220,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 40,000 will die.
Do not let yourself or your loved ones become a statistic. Get yourself checked and educate yourselves on the risk. You are someone special to a lot of people. My Nanie was someone special to me. Now she is my special angel