JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. –
Just look out your window and you will see pink and white on everything. NFL Football players are wearing pink highlights on their uniforms and sneakers. Community runs are being held in the major communities with everyone wearing pink and white t-shirts. Even at the grocery store you can find products decked out in pink and white containers. It is all being done in an effort to remind you to go get checked for breast cancer.
But, how many of us really go get checked? I can’t speak for anyone else, but I honestly never thought I would get breast cancer. It had been six years since I went for my annual mammogram. My doctor finally pushed me, and I broke down and went to have it done. It probably saved my life. I was at the early stages of breast cancer. They just saw a very small dot on the X-ray. But when they finally went in to get the cancer, it was four inches longer than suspected. It took three surgeries and several treatments of radiation to get it all. But, I am one of the lucky ones. I am in remission now.
But, it wasn’t an easy road, and I am writing this editorial today to thank the men and women of the Air Force and Army who supported my recovery. I had many Wingmen who pushed me to survive this challenge and come out a better person on the other side.
My commander and the command chief executive assistant set up a special yoga class for the whole office in the afternoon three days a week to help me lose weight and build up my stamina after my return to the office. They found a way I could exercise and helped to keep me motivated. Thanks to them I lost over 60 pounds, and my doctor said my diabetes issues may be a thing of the past. I couldn’t do the exercises the way they were intended, but they found alternative ways for me to participate by using a chair in the office. Turns out the morale in the whole office went up. Even the folks who didn’t participate cheered us on.
The Air Force has programs available to help you with your leave if you are a civilian like me. Once the doctor documents the illness, you can sign up for individuals to donate leave. The only problem was unless they told you, you didn’t know who they were. So please know the time you donated to me really made a difference. I could never repay you. This Air Force Program takes individuals use or lose leave and allows them to donate it. Thank you DoD.
They have other leave programs as well. You can, with your supervisor’s permission, borrow leave as well. I had to use it as well. And now I am working hard to pay that time back. These are programs you might not know about, which is why I wanted to write this editorial.
But the greatest thing the Air Force did for me is to allow me to work. The ability to go somewhere and do something for someone else, really made a difference. I have never been able to just sit around and wait for the worst to happen. I have to do something. And the love, care and smiles I received from my command every day helped me make it through this challenge. So know that I am here today healthier and happier because of this great U.S. Air Force and the programs it has in place to help.
But, it all started with that mammogram. Don’t wait. Go get yours today. It may be uncomfortable, but it really can save your life!