October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH:

An Interview with Mrs. Ann Mepham:
For this edition, I chose to write about Breast Cancer Awareness Month, featuring an interview with Mrs. Ann Mepham, a recent Breast Cancer survivor and the mother of Brigitte Mepham ’18. This interview discusses Mrs. Mepham’s diagnosis and the process she and her family went through up until being declared cancer-free. On behalf of the Jesuit community, I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to Mrs. Mepham and her family for sharing her story and helping to raise awareness for Breast Cancer in our community.

When were you first diagnosed with breast cancer?
“I was diagnosed with breast cancer in March of 2017.”

What type of cancer was it? Was it genetic?
“The cancer was invasive ductal carcinoma. It was not genetic.”

What treatment options did you have to go through?
“I went through chemotherapy for 20 weeks, and had surgery in September. To reduce the risk of recurrence, I will continue to get an infusion every three weeks for a year and over the next five years I will take an oral medication.”

What was the toughest part of treatment for you and your family?
“I think for all of us, one of the most difficult parts was our concern for how it made others feel when they found out “we” had cancer. No matter how much you try to tell others that you’re doing fine, most people can’t help but feel bad. Having confidence in our medical team and having the prayers of family and friends, we knew things would turn out alright. It’s hard to make other people feel the same way and to keep them from worrying. Also, as a mother, I really didn’t want anything I was going through to adversely affect the girls. I did miss some special events last spring that the girls were going through, and that they would only be going through as a senior and as a junior. That made me really sad. The girls, however, were strong and understanding. I really admire them and how they have handled this past year.”

When did you find out that you were cancer-free?
“I had surgery on September 19th and got the results of my biopsy on September 22nd. It was a pretty joyful day!”

Did you receive a lot of support from the community?
“Sometimes it takes bad situations to realize how blessed you are. The support and love I have felt has never been stronger. I’m typically private about personal issues like health. Despite that, I was not afraid to share my news because I wanted every prayer I could get. Not only did I have the comfort of knowing that people were praying for me, I also learned a lot about the faith they have in God and how they knew God was going to take care of me. Learning this was touching and will stay with me forever.
The words of faith and encouragement I received weren’t only from friends I have known for a long time, they were also from people I have just recently met. Of particular significance is the support we received from our Jesuit community and our Cathedral community (where the girls attended school K-8). Not only did the people in these communities pray for us, they fed us; they made us laugh; they told us what they had gone through when they had had cancer; they were always available. I learned a lot about the kind of person I want to be by witnessing their kindness. Although I know we live in a day and age of extreme busy-ness, so many people took time to let me know they were thinking of me. I hope to do the same for others in the future. All I’ll need to remember is how even receiving a text with nothing more than a “praying hands” emoji can be powerful. Now, I just need to make sure I’m the sender!”