October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. This month I am going to bring you a few different stories of how Breast Cancer has affected the lives of several amazing moms. While breast cancer got me started talking to these amazing moms- there is much more to be learned from their stories.
Jill Coons (no relation to me) first learned her mother had breast cancer when she was in college in the late 80′s. Her diagnosis came at a time when breast cancer diagnosis and treatments were not nearly as advanced as today. Amazingly, Jill’s mom battled cancer for 14 years and lost her fight in December of 2008.
When I asked Jill how she coped with the diagnosis of her mother’s cancer and ultimately her passing, Jill mentioned a symbol of hope that keeps her mother’s memory alive and inspires her on a regular basis: Ladybugs. When Jill’s mother, Lorrie, was bedridden towards the end of her struggle with cancer Jill and her sister noticed several of Ladybugs on the ceiling in her mother’s room. Real ladybugs. They found the presence of the ladybugs peculiar because it was late fall and ladybugs are most common in the spring. She and her sister figured that the ladybugs must be a symbol of good luck. Two weeks before Chrismas, Jill’s mom passed away and when they searched the room for the ladybugs- they were gone too.
On Christmas day, the family had all gathered at an aunt’s house for dinner. That evening, as the extended family was getting ready to eat, a ladybug appeared on the china cabinet. Ever since then, ladybugs have had a special meaning to Jill. Each time Jill sees a ladybug she feels a deep sense of gratitude- for her family, her health and her friends. A ladybug sighting also reminds Jill of her mother at a time when she had her health and vitality. She is incredibly proud of her mother’s fearless struggle with cancer and her willingness to try every new drug and treatment available. Thus, paving the way for advancements in treatment for those who suffer from the disease today.
Two years ago, Jill organized a team of women and men to complete the Susan G. Komen 60 mile walk for breast cancer awareness and they are walking again this year. They are called Team Ladybug. She and her team train twice a week- and will walk in November. Raising money and awareness is Jill’s way of honoring the memory of her mother. The walk is both physically and emotionally challenging- but she feels it is the least she can do given the pain and suffering that her mother endured for years.
I can’t stop crying every time I sit at my keyboard to type this story. I know 3 beautiful moms who are fighting breast cancer right now. That number will grow as we get older. The tears are for all women who have to be scared and strong at the same time. They fight to stay healthy so they can see their children grow. I can’t be sure that one of those women might not be me one day; but, there is no way to know. I am glad there are moms like Jill Coons who are raising money to find a cure. Now, I will never look at ladybugs in the same way.
If you would like to donate to Team Ladybug: click here.