Elaine Bergida is a very special person. I met Elaine a little over three years ago when I started dating her son, and we've been close ever since. When you first meet her, you can see her upbeat attitude is contagious. As you get to know her, you realize how caring she is and loves to share her happiness with everyone around her, myself included. A retired nurse, Elaine dedicated her career towards women's health, but never thought she would be dealing with something herself. At the end of August 2013, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
"My heart just dropped. We all cried. It was very painful to hear." She first noticed some abnormalities earlier that summer. If anyone knows Elaine, you know she is very good at listening to her body and taking care of herself. She played softball when she was younger, exercises regularly, and is always running around to keep up with her three dogs. Her family also had no history of breast cancer. So how could someone so healthy have cancer? The news was shocking, but she knew she could handle it.
After heavy discussions with her doctor about the best plan of action to take, Elaine and her family decided to have her whole breast removed. "You're losing a part of yourself. But if it will save my life, it's worth it." Elaine thankfully did not have to undergo chemotherapy or radiation, and two months after her diagnosis, she had the breast cancer removed. Three months after the procedure she was able to have reconstructive surgery. To gain back a part of herself that made her a woman was great to hear, and it was only uphill from there.
"I don't want people to feel sorry for me. What I went through was not as difficult as others' journeys. But I'm thankful it has made me a stronger person and I've learned how important it is to make your health a priority." Elaine has taken preventative medicine to help ensure the cancer doesn't return and gets screened yearly. Because she acted fast and took the necessary measures, she was able to save her life. She now donates to the Susan G. Komen Foundation in efforts to help save others' lives as well.
On October 14, the same day as our Breast Cancer Awareness game, Elaine will be five years cancer-free! I am honored to be on the field for that game to represent all the women that have passed, are currently battling, and are survivors like Elaine Bergida. I'm very lucky to have her in my life not only as another motherly-figure and friend, but also as an inspiration. This one's for you, Big E!