Battles are waged every day, including everything from the little decision of what to have for breakfast to a blowout fight with someone. They occur in war, on the streets, or just in your own thoughts. But there comes a point where the stakes of the battles we face are our own lives.
These battles can strike at any time, and often times come without any warning, whether it be physical or mental, external or internal. And, after all, we have to fight them alone, since it’s our own lives that’s at risk. But this doesn’t mean that we can’t draw strength from the people around us, the people who love us, and the people who need us.
I know this because I’ve fought my own battle. I have a depression, a demon that lives in the shadows of my mind, toting along anxiety. It likes to strike at the most inconvenient moments. And, in the most grisly of times, it will bring forth death.
Depression, alongside its friend anxiety, has sucked the life out of me over a period of at least five years until I felt like my life was worth nothing more than a dried up leaf drifting through the air. That’s when I came face to face with death and I had to fight for the will to live.
Now, thanks to prescription medication and an ambition to make a difference in the world, I am here; a survivor of my battle. But I’ve earned the strength to face any other battle life is bound to throw at me. Because that’s what life likes to do: it takes the kindest people or the people who’ve been through the most and throws every challenge it can get its hands on at them.
But, whether or not you’ve faced a battle of your own, you need to remember that everyone’s battle is different. There are no two battles that are the same, and someone else’s battle might not seem like a battle at all. Remember that you are not the one fighting it. You don’t know what they’re facing. And although survivors of life or death battles will come out of the other side of it stronger, sometimes the enemy wins.
My good friend’s mom died from cancer when he was five.
My great-grandmother lost her battle to breast cancer, leaving my grandma and her sister and brother without a mother.
In the early 2000s my grandmother started her battle with breast cancer. But thanks to the advancements of modern medicine, and the right people by her side, she was able to win her battle. I couldn’t be more grateful that she survived and that I get to grow up with her as a grandmother.
Just last summer my mother began her battle with breast cancer, the same cancer that has proved as a curse to our family and to about 1 in 8 women in the United States alone. I think people often overlook how horribly a sickness such as cancer affects everyone in a person's life; although it ultimately is my mother’s battle, we are all right beside her in the war zone. She hasn’t even started treatment yet and already this has been the most stressful couple of months of our lives.
October is breast cancer awareness month, and there couldn’t be a more perfect time to raise awareness for it. Breast cancer has completely changed my life, and I haven’t even battled against it.
My mother had a double mastectomy on October 13, 2017, which is something many women have to endure. With help from the best doctors available and her amazing strength, she went home within 24 hours of the surgery. I am so proud of her. But it’s such a horrible thing, to have to give up your breasts. Putting any sexual stigma aside, breasts are an important part of being a woman. For many women, they are part of their identity; I know they were part of her identity. She’s told me they made her feel womanly, not only because they can make you feel sexy, but because she breastfed her two children. The fact is, in most cases, breasts come along with being a woman, and when you lose them, you lose part of who you are.
My mother spoke to me about how she’s afraid of not looking like a woman. In a couple months, she’ll be flat chested, without hair or eyebrows. I know appearance isn’t the real problem. I mean, she’s going to live and it’ll be physically and mentally draining, but she’s going to survive this battle. And I feel lucky because so many people lose their mothers to this battle.
More than anything, I want to raise awareness on this subject and remind people that everyone is fighting their own battles, and all we can do is support one another. Together, we’ll all make it through.
Photo: Ingress Editor-in-Chief, Dustin Duong