I never knew my maternal grandmother, Olga Welsh, who died before I was born of a cancer that started in her breast. Back then, there was't much that could be done for patients like my grandma. She volunteered to take part in experimental trials, including daily testosterone shots that gave this very ladylike woman facial hair she had to shave daily. These treatments were painful and often humiliating – and ultimately, they didn't save her life. But she never regretted trying them, saying, "If it doesn't help me, it might help someone else in the future."
The courage of women like Olga Welsh DID help others. Since her death at age 62 in 1961, the survival rate for women with breast cancer has tripled1. Today, thanks to screenings and more effective medical treatments, the five-year survival rate for women with non-metastasized breast cancer is 99%.
Still, 3 million women are currently living with a breast cancer diagnosis2; one in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. For women like my mother and me, with a family history of the disease, the risk is higher. The shadow of grandma's fate is ever-present in my life, and waiting for the results my annual mammogram is an anxious time – as it is for most women.
There are many ways to honor those who have fought this disease, and contribute to the fight for a cure. This year, I made a special meal for mom and I to share. It was all pink – the color associated with the fight against breast cancer for several decades. The menu included a salad of red cabbage, radishes, pomegranate arils and blood orange and grapefruit slices, dressed with Creamy Rhubarb-Strawberry Dressing and pink-tinted Bountiful Beer Bread Croutons;
red lentil penne pasta served with Mama Mia Marinara Cream Sauce and pink-tinted Garlic Breadsticks;
sparkling Mulled Cranberry Sparkler;
and for dessert, Mini Classy Chocolate Whoopie Pies with strawberry buttercream filling and pink-swirled individual Absolutely Almond Pound Cakes(made in just two minutes in the microwave using Tastefully Simple's adorable new mini bundt pans).
Hint: To get a pink marbled effect with the mini bundt cakes, I divided the batter and tinted one half with pink food color gel. I used both batter colors to fill each mini bundt pan three-quarters full and swirled the batter with a knife before microwaving them for 2 minutes.
This special meal was a precious time to for mom to share stories of a woman I never knew, but who sacrificed so much so that those who came after her would have a more hopeful future than she did. Afterward, I was proud to write my annual check to the fight against breast cancer.
During October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I hope you will take a moment to remember all who have been touched by this disease, and contribute in your own way to end it.