Oct 8, 2012

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Kicking Breast Cancer in the Face

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Europa Sports is working with its many vendors to raise awareness. The following is an interview with one of Europa’s own, Christine Christ, conducted by UltimateCrossfit.com. Christine is a breast cancer survivor. She and her son, Mike, talked with the website about her journey. Thanks for sharing Christine!

The thought of someone suffering through breast cancer resonates with all of us. The unfortunate truth is that everyone seems to have a connection-a co-worker, a friend, a relative-but for our own GM, Mike, breast cancer hit close to home when his mom, Christine was diagnosed a couple of years ago. We caught up with Mike and his mom recently to get a better understanding of what it is like to go through this life-changing ordeal and what it is like to support a family member through it.


What was your initial reaction to the diagnosis?


My initial reaction was disbelief, denial and then anger. I had defined myself by my active and healthy lifestyle. My numbers were always good (blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, BMI), I ate fresh and nutritious meals, exercised regularly and thought I had done everything possible to dodge any preventable disease.


Maybe I was a little callous or even naïve when she first told me. My military training taught me that if something bad happens that you keep moving forward, you don’t give up, you overcome and adapt to any situation presented to you and you conquer it. So, I think initially I tried to be as strong as I could and tell her not to waste time and energy worrying about it, just do what you have to do to beat this. No matter what the procedure is, you need to get treated and see this thing through. My mom is a Superwoman to me. If you think that I’m tough, then you haven’t met my mom yet. I’ve got nothing on her. As long as I can remember she’s played in competitive tennis leagues, softball leagues, she’s even crossfitted I even have a memory of her coming home one night with a broken ankle because she was out hooping. She’s one tough cookie and I didn’t think this disease had a chance trying to mess around with my mom. Maybe I could have shown a little more compassion upfront but I wanted to be a rock for her when I knew that was what she needed.


How has this experience changed your life?


It changed my perspective of myself as a mother and caretaker. I was always the strong, invincible one taking care of everyone else. Having to depend on my children to take care of me was difficult to accept and humbling.


It made me grow up fast. I knew that if needed I was ready to take care of my mother and swap roles. If she ever needs me I will always be there. The spare bedroom is ready! Ha


Who did you turn to for advice during this time?


I had two great resources for advice: my sister, Carol, a two time cancer survivor, who from Dallas talked me through every step of the way; and my friend Janie, an oncology nurse here in Charlotte, who helped me select my surgical oncologist and translated my test results into clear language I could understand.


My mom, of course


Christine, what advice can you give to other women?

Get your annual mammogram. My tumor was discovered through a routine screening. When caught early, it’s your best chance for treatment and survival.


Mike, what advice can you give to others who are supporting a loved one?

Be there. Whatever they need from you, do it. No questions asked.


Christine, where did you get your strength from?

As for strength, it’s part of my DNA. We are a family of survivors. My dad was a WWII Purple Heart recipient and POW; my son, a Marine with combat experience in the War on Terror in Iraq and Afghanistan; my sister conquered two separate cancers (sarcoma and carcinoma), and my mom battles Parkinson’s disease everyday. Besides, I was busy working, planning a wedding (Mike and Jen’s), and didn’t have time to indulge in self-pity or unnecessary worry.


Christine, what did you find to be the most helpful means of support from others?

The most helpful means of support was having my children step in, without being asked, to take care of me and the household duties (cooking, cleaning, etc.) while I was healing.


Christine, what do you want others to know about Breast Cancer? The process, early diagnosis, etc

Once you are diagnosed, there are decisions to be made. You must be an informed and educated participant in your own medical care. Weigh the risks and benefits of every treatment option offered; ask questions, get answers, do research, ask more questions, get more answers and then select the treatment course that is right for you. One size does not fit all and you must be a strong, relentless self-advocate.

Source: UltimateCrossfit.com

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