I know that some Professionals recommend getting a yearly mammogram at 40 plus, but as African American Women we are at a higher risk. Do not think that 30 is too young. I’ve known and lost too many people who ignored their bodies and go their mammograms too late.There are unknown reasons as to why Black Women with breast cancer have a higher mortality rate than anyone else, but there are correlations. There are still plenty of studies going on. One thing I think separates us is the lack of information and access. More Black Women receive a diagnosis in the later stages of breast cancer and have a more aggressive form of Breast Cancer.
What about the costs, you ask? There are organizations that offer FREE MAMMOGRAMS all over the U.S.A. For example, the Capital Breast Care Center offers free exams and serves as a great source of information for people with questions in the DMV area. Komen.org is also a great source for people looking for a source for free mammograms. It is better to be informed than uninformed!
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” -Dr. Seuss
I intended to post this on 2.24.12 to mark the first year since my Mom passed, but I didn’t. So why not the first day of my Mom’s favorite Month?
The thing that I found to be eerie and inspiring about this is that I wrote it around Midnight on February 24th, 2011 and I felt a strong emotional connection to something I did not understand. Later that same day my Mom passed away. I remember before I knew that she passed that I was excited to share this with her because I wrote it for my creative writing class. I always loved my mother, but writing this made me feel an appreciation for her that was deeper than I felt before.
One thing that I am proud to say is that I feel no regrets. I always let my Mom know that I loved her and we never hid anything from each-other. She was the most open and kindhearted person I know. I know people speak kindly of those who have passed but are only saying it to fluff up an image of that person. But I can say genuinely 100% that my Mother was the most amazing, open, and funniest person I’ve had the honor of knowing. The funny thing is I no longer feel a feeling of “loss” because I will see her again. I don’t feel whole, but I feel a contentment that only she could have taught me and that she continues to give me. I don’t like to talk about whats going on in my life, but I felt the need to share.
Tell the people you love that you love them. Share with them. Be open. Live your life with no regrets. Do it now. Don’t put it off. We don’t like to talk about it, but we never know when our time to go is coming. While you are still here living, breathing and laughing…Share your laughter with others. I’m speaking on a simple level without regard to your religion, race, political affiliation or gender. No matter who you are, “Show” your love. When things don’t go the way you planned, you’ll wish you did.
So here it is:
Cradled by a dark-caramel colored frame, etched with hand drawn manufactured words of “Peace, Nature, Live,and Freedom” around it, sits a photo of my Mom, sister, and me. My Mom is at least 24 years old, Samaya is barely alive at 4 days, and I am 2. My Mother is sitting high on the end of a bed scattered with floral patterns, holding both of us. A tan backrest pillow un-purposely leans against Mommy at the moment. No one’s eyes notice the camera-holder, or focus on the lightning flash of the disposable camera. No eyes can be seen.
All eyes are on Samaya. I sit with my back to the camera, my diaper hanging proudly out of my light baby blue pajama pants, supporting her head with my hand. Mommy’s arms are wrapped around the both of us. Her right hand meets her left fist, which is cradled awkwardly around Samaya to support her entire body. Samaya’s shoulder blades rest in the nook of her elbow. She doesn’t seem to mind. In this moment, her eyes look completely shut, but they are consumed in the new born. In this moment, we are supporting each other. Mommy is keeping me from tumbling from her lap and I am attempting to keep Samaya’s head upright. Her arms, wrapped around the both of us, are continuous in life and in spirit.
Samaya’s hair clings to her like it’s been smoothed down in perfect black waves around her scalp. Her skin is bright yellow; the sun’s second cousin. Just bright enough to handle, but not too bright to go unnoticed. She’s newly-shriveled and soft, her face formed into a frozen scowl that shows some discomfort. Mommy bought a white blanket that snugly envelopes her from neck to toe, wrapping Samaya in warmth. My head is covered in four large plaits marked with individual barrettes. My hair neatly shoots off in different directions divided by carefully greased and separated parts. My head, turned away from the camera, blocks the mouth of my smiling Mother, only indicated by the rise in her upper cheek-bones. Mommy’s bright orange-and green head band pushes back her hair in a mass of thick dyed almond and blackness that carries down to the tops of her earlobes. Her hair is has been tediously parted down the middle, sending fluffs of thickness on either side of her head. Below, a bright orange t-shirt accompanies her head band, highlighted against the white of my t-shirt and Samaya’s blanket.
We are in my Mommy’s room, so the room must have a smell that you can’t quite identify, you just know it must smell good. It’s probably something flowery, but not overwhelming so that it lightly touches your nostrils, rather than send it into a fiery pit of stink. Mommy looks like the great pumpkin against the brown floral patterning on the wall, thoughtlessly scattered against a white background. She sticks out like a accidental Queen amongst these dead things. Everything is haphazardly tossed this way and that: the phone, the covers, the baby brush, and the bottle, but all within reach. I, myself, look like I’m on the brink of collapsing, but only forward, into Mommy.
A tell-tale sign that we are all one in the same is the peak that breaches our hair lines, Mommy’s is the most defiant. It highlights either side of her face, this time her right. You see her long “roman” nose that I always dared to grab, her high eyebrows, the roundness of her face. When she was younger, she always tried to shave it off, finding it to be unattractive. I did the same thing, but I discovered that without it I feel bare. I feel that I am not only denying, but I am erasing a part of what makes me who I am. I know it’s a simple hairline, but it goes beyond that. I am my Mother’s daughter, and I am proud of everything that makes me. The little things that we forget are the big things that make us who we are, and for me it’s a hairline.