Throughout this year, I have had the incredible fortune of meeting many women from all walks of dental life. But this month, my thoughts are focused on two of my dear friends who are not only extraordinary clinicians, dedicated parents, and wonderful daughters - they are breast cancer survivors.
One of these women is a friend of mine since my dental hygiene days. She is a woman I drove to school with every day. We studied, played, and graduated together. We got married around the same time, had children around the same time, and are now trying to become empty nesters. We have been close, and when she found out she had breast cancer, we approached it together. Every step of the way, I tried to be there for her. We looked at each phase of therapy and how it was affecting her body. We tried to find humor in anything we could. We even discussed her side effects of chemotherapy as her personal science experiment. After months of medical poking and prodding, she can say she is a survivor.
The other woman is a friend from dental school. As many of you recall, we were seated alphabetically. This woman and I were not similar in our last names, but in those days, all women usually stuck together. Even though we were rooms apart, we were all there to survive the experience of being a woman in a man’s dental school. She was diagnosed with breast cancer more than six years ago.
Both women found out about their breast cancer via mammograms. Both were treated with surgical intervention, chemo, and radiation therapy, and were cancer-free. But after five years of living cancer-free, my dental school friend had a relapse. Her breast cancer had metastasized. Now she’s going through another round of therapy. Throughout their treatments, both of these brave women continued to work and have the support of their families and colleagues, which strengthens their survival spirit.
It is a rare woman who hasn’t encountered a friend or relative who is a survivor. These are two women of the many I have met during my practice. We find them through our medical questionnaires, and we find them in our health clubs. They are friends, mothers, and daughters. They are people we know. I think it would be impossible for any of us to say that breast cancer has not touched someone we know or love.
For those women who have been diagnosed, we need to be unwavering in our support and steadfast in our comfort. We need to remember our bodies and schedule annual mammograms, no matter how uncomfortable they may be. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For my friends and for your friends, are you wearing your pink this month?
With warm regards,
Sheri B. Doniger, DDS
Dr. Doniger is the editor of Woman Dentist Journal.
We welcome letters to the editor. Please e-mail your letters to Dr. Doniger at [email protected]. Include your name and the city and state where you practice.