Published in the October 25 – November 7 issue of Morgan Hill Life

Debbi Sanchez

October is a month of beginnings and endings. At summer’s end, the local harvest begins. Shades of green fade away as hues of gold and brown renovate our landscapes. Long days give way to earlier nights. The warm breeze begins its cool descent. Fall is here. The signs of the season are upon us. I see pumpkins everywhere.

With so much to be joyful about the season, I still approach every October with mixed emotions. Among the many things October brings with it is breast cancer awareness. I am grateful for October. I am mad at October. I am sad in October. Above all else, I am hopeful in October.

I am grateful that because October has been dubbed “Breast Cancer Awareness Month” women can find lots of information and resources to learn about breast cancer, early detection, prevention, and cures. I am grateful for the many friends and family members I know who have faced down cancer and beat it. I am grateful because my journey through breast cancer ended in the best possible way — I survived.

I am mad because I am not someone who hates — yet I hate cancer with a passion. When I think of the lives affected, I get mad. Knowing the struggles of those who have fought to survive — the tears, the scars, the pain, I get mad. When I consider that chemotherapy and radiation are poison — yet the most widely accepted therapies, causing devastating short and long-term side effects and irreparable damage, I get mad.

I am sad when I think of all the women I have personally known who have lost their fight. I am sad when

I consider all the people who loved those women, who needed them, who miss them. I am sad when I realize that we still have not found a cure for breast cancer. I am sad that breast cancer also affects men and yet it seems no one is talking about it. Now, I am not a sad person by nature. I will never be described as a melancholy type by anyone who knows me. However, when October rolls around, I find myself feeling sad a little more than usual.

I am hopeful in October when I think of the progress — though slow, that has been made in the fight against cancer. I am hopeful when I see the community of survivors who come together to support and encourage one another. I am hopeful that with every new day, the chance of a cure is closer to reality. I am hopeful because sometimes it can seem like hope is all we have, and in those times hope is all we need.

It is with this mixed bag of emotions I carry around in October, and especially with hope, that I want to encourage you to get your annual mammogram. Learn to do self-breast exams — or ask your significant other to help. If something feels different — don’t wait! See your Doctor right away.

Don’t assume everything is fine or that it will all work out. Your diligence can be the difference. Most insurance ACA compliant insurance plans offer free preventative care including annual mammograms.

If you need assistance see the links below. In this month of beginnings and endings, I hope you begin or continue to be proactive with your health, and that we can one day put an end to breast cancer.

Debbi Sanchez is an event coordinator at Fortino Winery, a 14-year cancer survivor, and advocate. She serves on the board of Saint Louise Regional Hospital. She can be reached at

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