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Breast Cancer Awareness Month: People affected by breast cancer share their experiences

Mike Mattix
Kristy Mattix (staff) poses for a photo when leaving the UCHealth Cancer Center. She completed her last round of chemotherapy on Oct. 11, 2019.

As October comes upon us again, so does Halloween, cooler weather and the new colors of fall. However, October isn’t just another month. It’s also widely known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. 

Starting in 1985, the movement of breast cancer awareness has continued to sky-rocket since. The movement continued to grow thanks to diagnosed women coming forward and telling their stories.

Ruth Stephens and her mom smile big for their photo. Previously, her mom underwent chemotherapy in order to treat her cancer. (Ruth Stephens)

Breast cancer not only affects the person with the sickness but also the other people that revolve around their lives. This includes parents, children, friends or even people they’ve only had one encounter with. Because it touches so many lives, there will always be an unheard point of view that the story will uncover. 

Ruth Stephens (10) explains how her knowledge of breast cancer has helped her recognize what an effect it has on not only her family but other women today; her mom currently is facing the challenges of a breast cancer diagnosis. Stephens’ knowledge has helped her become more familiar with supporting her mom who continues to persevere.

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“I think as a family it’s hard because we’re all going through the same thing but no one really talks about it. I feel like we’re all just struggling silently. We just don’t communicate as much as we need to,” Stephens explained.

Because Stephens’ mom is undergoing the diagnosis, the fight to be free from it still continues every minute of every day. Along with her mom, she has a support system built up of friends and family who continue to uplift her. 

“I get support from family and friends. I just try my best to stay positive in this situation and just know that it’s not going to last forever. I try to keep going every day,” Stephens said.

Although Stephens has had her own encounter with a family member who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, she isn’t alone. English teacher Ethan Mattix (staff) has experienced this situation first-hand with his mother.

The hardest part is watching the strongest person you know go through something so hard.

— Ethan Mattix (staff)

“I think the hardest part is watching the strongest person you know go through something so hard, that no one should have to go through. It’s just heartbreaking to see someone who raised you and took care of you in such a weak place because of everything she’s going through. It’s awful to watch. It’s horrible,” Mattix explained. 

His mom, Kristy Mattix (staff), is the new IEP Technician for WHS. Before this, she worked with special education departments in the district, so many people have gotten familiar with her story.

“She has worked in the school system for a long time so she’s known so many kids and so many students that we still run into working at different places in the community and that she worked with when we were in preschool. It’s nice to know that there’s a wonderful community of people who support her,” E. Mattix said.

K. Mattix was diagnosed with breast cancer on May 1, 2019. Along the road, she has had to fight many long battles that would constantly try to consume her. With the long and hard days, K. Mattix had to persevere through the unexpected diagnosis.

“You have to get up and you have to do it. I had lots of support from my family and I just remember my first day of chemo, getting up and saying, ‘I don’t want to go’ and my husband was like, “I know, but we have to go.” So we just went and did it,” K. Mattix explained.

Ethan Mattix (staff) addresses his class about writing. His mom is a breast cancer survivor. (Adyson Roles) (Mike Mattix)

Knowing there would be harder times throughout her chemotherapy journey, K. Mattix held the most positive mindset she could, keeping in mind that she needed to go day by day in order to fight everything off. 

“My surgeon actually asked me the same question: ‘What do you think the hardest part about this is going to be?’ and my answer to her was telling my mom. It ended up being easier than I thought. But it really scared me to tell her because she had been through that with my aunt and it was a really hard experience that didn’t have a good outcome. But she took it well and we did a lot better than I thought,” K. Mattix stated. 

Throughout the journeys of many who undergo breast cancer and the various outcomes, it affects more than just them. But with the support of others — family or not — some are able to come out with an inspiring story where they can teach others as well as demonstrate how strong they truly are. 

“She has taken care of me forever and I will always love her for that and just appreciate and support her the way she has supported me,” E. Mattix stated.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a breast cancer diagnosis, get help at Breast Cancer Now.

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Adyson Roles
Adyson Roles, Reporter
Adyson Roles is a sophomore at Windsor High School and is considering writing when she's older. She enjoys hiking, watching the sunset and spending time with loved ones.
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