Monday, Nov. 6, 2006.
That’s the day my mother, Anna Graham, finally lost her battle to breast cancer. She was 74.
Mom had been diagnosed four years prior with both breast and uterine cancer, and she had a double mastectomy and a hysterectomy to try and end the threat.
We thought she had been successful. Just four months before she died, she had been given a clean bill of health during her regular doctor’s visit. But in the interim, the cancer came back with a vengeance, infiltrating “the three L’s,” her lungs, liver and lymph nodes. We didn’t know how bad it was, and I’m not sure she did either, until she passed out at her Catholic church in Huntsville, and had to be taken to the hospital by some of her friends.
I remember driving to Huntsville from Monroe, Georgia, to try and determine exactly was going on with her health. I knew this wasn’t good, but I didn’t know how bad it was. I checked in with her every week and she never let on that she was having any difficulty at all.
After finally making it to her room I asked her how she was feeling. She told me, “I’m dying,” very matter-of-factly. If you knew my mother you knew this was her style. I remember saying, “Let’s see what the doctors have to say,” but the doctors, unfortunately, confirmed what my mother already knew.
They gave mom up to six months to live after discovering the cancer had reoccurred. She only made it 10 days.
Those last days were spent at Abbey Hospice in Social Circle, Georgia. I was the publisher at The Walton Tribune in Monroe at the time, and I had her moved locally so that my wife, Allison, and I could help look after her, however long that was going to be, along with my brothers and sisters.
Although I cherish being able to spend those last few days with her, it really wasn’t enough time. I still miss her terribly, and I always will.
My story is not unlike so many who have had their lives and loved ones touched by breast cancer. We are sharing some of those stories in this special “Think Pink” edition.
In a month dedicated to breast cancer awareness, we are dedicating “Think Pink” to breast cancer survivors and all those who are fighting to find a cure.
— Patrick Graham is the owner of The Covington News, The Walton Tribune, Jackson County Sentinel, The Times-Journal and The Sand Mountain Reporter.