By Ashley Hébert, Programming Manager, Concordia
Each year, women’s health is celebrated for a full week in honor of the most life altering women in our lives – our moms. Beginning on Mother’s Day, National Women’s Health Week encourages women and young girls to make their health a priority. This year in particular, I am celebrating National Women’s Health Week in honor of my mom, Virginia Hébert, who commemorates 10 years chemotherapy-free as a breast cancer survivor!
I vividly recall the moment that my parents sat my sister, brother, and me down to tell us my mom had breast cancer and would be going through some “changes”. As a junior in high school, I wasn’t fully clear on what that would entail, and my parents had a tendency to downplay significant moments as a way to shield us from scary scenarios – so I felt confident it must not be too serious. Little did I know, my mom had stage III breast cancer and would go through months of treacherous radiation and chemotherapy.
She experienced all of the side effects that come with both therapies (nausea, fatigue, hair loss, amongst many others), yet to a third party outsider, you would have no idea. My mom did not skip a beat from my first prom, mother-daughter luncheon, numerous friends’ weddings and family vacations, football season, high school graduation celebrations – you name it, my mom was there for it all. I guess you could say her wig (AKA «Betty») created an alter ego – she became a fiercely strong woman who was not experiencing all of the physical symptoms nor the emotional distress that came with her treatments. Now I realize this alter ego has been her true identity throughout my life, and not even cancer can bring her spirit down!
Fast forward to May 2012, my senior year, to my mom’s last chemotherapy treatment. She received confirmation about a year later that her cancer was completely cleared, and it has never reared its ugly head again! I am beyond grateful for the preventative care my mom received to allow me to celebrate Mother’s Day and National Women’s Health Week year after year.
Although this story has a happy ending for my family, that is unfortunately often not the case, which is why women’s preventative care is of the utmost importance. Not only has my mom won her battle with breast cancer, but so has my grandmother Patricia Ann Hébert – so take it from me, preventative care is the best care; it can save your life as well as the lives of your loved ones. Learn more here for important steps you can take to protect your physical and mental health by identifying the care you may need.
Concordia is fruitful in its diverse membership community, with an abundance of change-makers in the women’s health space. I am grateful to work for such an impactful organization, where I get to learn from this plethora of knowledge on important issues such as women’s health, including the following individuals and organizations:
If you’re a current member of our community and wish to be connected with any of the above individuals or organizations, please reach out to Izzy Ezratty at email@example.com to facilitate a discussion. To learn more about becoming a Concordia Member, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To continue the celebration and learning, don’t miss out on our Concordia Live: Transforming Health Systems for Gender Equity hosted by Patron Member SightLife, on Wednesday May 25 at 9:00-9:45am EDT.
Let’s keep each other safe by spreading awareness of the importance of preventative care!