"Special Edition"
This month is Breast Cancer Awareness month and I want to dedicate this Friday Featured Friend to my Aunt Brenda Burton who lost her fight over 17 years ago at the age of 44.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to blog about her but I thought about the influence she had on me growing up and even through her fight, she continued to amaze me.

My Aunt Brenda was born and raised in St. Louis Missouri and was the youngest of (I think) 6 children.  To me, she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen and she reminded me of a lighter version of Diana Ross.  She loved to go bowling and hang out with her girlfriends.  Aunt Brenda just seemed to always have so much fun! When I was around her, she was always smiling, fixing her long, flowing hair and joking around with everyone.  She took me to my first Janet Jackson concert and fed into my Michael Jackson craziness by recording all the videos and shows that my dad would not. . .LOL!

What's frustrating about writing this blog. . .I really didn't know what happened with her and why she had to leave us so soon.  When I found out that she was diagnosed, I just figured. . .oh, she's sick and she will fight through it.  We would go visit her in the hospital, the doctors will fix her and she will just go home.  That was the extent of what I knew about breast cancer.  Later, I learned I knew nothing!  When I would come home from college to visit from time to time there were days where she was just "Aunt Brenda" and other days when I finally realized, it was more than just being sick.  She had lost her hair and my dad, along with my Uncle would visit her frequently to make sure she would eat.  It was hard to see her sad, weak and, at times, frustrated.  After her passing, I personally was devastated and later angry because I did not know what was really going on with her.  I didn't know that this "cancer" could effect anyone in our family and if it did, how could we prevent another loss?

After returning back to MIZZOU during the winter semester, that is when I decided to learn more about breast cancer.  I would read anything I could get my hands on when it came to breast cancer and even did a presentation on the disease.  It was very hard to get through but educating myself was the best thing I had ever done.  One thing that I did learn is that I had to stay active, eat right and not smoke.  The information that we have today surpasses what we had back in 1992 and 1993.

Today, there are SO MANY tools, support groups, systems and specialized doctors in the fight against breast cancer.  Women are taking the bull by it's horn and fighting it head on because of the information given to them.  Hey, do not go down without a FIGHT. . .make sure you are doing self breast exams every month, visit your doctor every year and get your breast exams, mammograms and ask questions.  Exercise and eating right is the first step in preventing breast cancer, as well as other diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure.

Per Susan G. Komen fact sheet new cases reported among white women are approximately 125 per 100,000 cases.  African american women, 116 per 100,000 and remember, african american women make up less than 10% of the national population.  Other ethnicities like Asian, Hawaiian and hispanic women  around 85 per 100,000 cases are reported and these are new cases.   Understand the big picture and get involved with preventing this disease through organizations like LIVESTRONG, SUSAN G. KOMEN and the AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY just to name a few.  There are local chapters in your state that could always use your help OR that can help you!

Understand that today, I know so many more survivors.  There is hope and it is a fight that you or someone you know can and will get through!

To Aunt Brenda, I love you and miss you but I will keep going!
Happy Running!