In 2007, I was six months pregnant with my second child. I was in my kitchen making dinner when the phone rang. One of those moments you never forget. It was my mother telling me that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. I have to say that while it shook me, I recovered quickly. My mother was otherwise healthy. Breast cancer is one of the most curable cancers and she had been getting regular mammograms. I was sure it was going to be a tough year while we figured things out, but that she would be a survivor.
It didn’t work out that way. We quickly learned that she had one of the rarest and deadliest forms of breast cancer, triple-negative-receptor. By her first appointment, they found it in her lungs and other vital organs. She fought hard, had surgeries, treatments, endless hospital stays. But despite her fighting and the incredible efforts of her doctors, she died just two years later.
If there was something to hang onto during those two years it was that they gave me the opportunity to have the conversations that people often regret not having. She knew how much she was loved and how much we would miss her and how we would do anything to fix this. And I made promises, to her and myself.
I promised my mother that her grandchildren would know her. She loved them more than anything in the world and was heartbroken that she would not see them grow up. I told her that I would tell them every story and moment I could remember so that they had more than just their brief memories and could know her as a whole person, not just their grandmother who was sick and dying. It’s been easy to keep that promise because they love hearing about her as much as I love talking about her. They know how much she loved them and how funny, smart, warm, loving, proud she was.
The other promise, I made to myself. I promised I would find a way to contribute in her honor. That one took a little longer, but I am so, so, so happy to say that day has finally come. With You Lockets has teamed up with Breast Cancer Research Foundation to raise funding for the prevention and cure. Our company, which has always been about keeping love close, is taking it one step further by helping contribute to keeping more grandmothers, mothers, sisters and friends alive.
I’m especially touched to say that we have named a locket in her honor, the Elaine. Like my mother, it is beautiful. It makes me feel hopeful that there will be a cure in my lifetime. And when I wear it, I send out a silent message to my children… “I will be here for you.”