Thank you to this week's storyteller Mia Perovetz Gyesky - artist & activist - for sharing her story and inspiring us to move!
Thank you to Mia Gyesky for sharing her story with us this week. Your words are a great reminder to live everyday fully and we appreciate your commitment to help support organizations such as LWDF!
How has cancer impacted your life?
I have told my story time and time again, at dinner parties, tea with girlfriends, in different creative forms one-woman shows in NY & London, film festivals with shorts about my declaration of how cancer has affected my life. The older I'm getting though the more I understand that my telling was simply a tool I created to protect myself from listening.
You see when you are a survivor of a family that was infected with cancer - ie a mother, father, sibling, grandparent passing. You can become incredibly determined to fight this word. You research all you can about the disease. You determine all the preventive measures you need to take yourself. You attend runs and walks, luncheons, fashion shows- you find great comradery in people that are doing the same and suddenly the word can feel almost pink, lacey and fun... you lose the fear of "what if's." Until one day you find a "cause for concern." or better yet, "a lump." and your whole world comes crashing down. And you realize you've done everything in your power to not listen to the fear inside of you. The fear that "cancer" will now be your diagnoses too.
I was 11 when cancer first became a household word. I didn't understand it then any more than I understand it now. I say that - because as I sat in the doctor's office just last week with my three-year-old daughter on my lap - I felt just as helpless and lost in the world of medicine as I did when my mother was diagnosed. Time is a funny thing - in my twenties, cancer felt far away - in my mid-thirties as I draw close to the age my mother was when she first found a lump suddenly it all feels very real.
My mother was 39 when she was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, she was given 18 months to live and purely by her sheer tenacity, courage and strength, she turned that death sentence into 11 years. It was 11 years of not so pretty, but also of the most transforming "Love" I could ever imagine. When my mother died, people use to say to me "I wish I had just one year of the love that you and your mom had with my own mother, and she's still alive." I didn't understand that - until I became a mother and witnessed mothering. Now I realize how lucky I was to have 11 solid years of pure, unconditional love. As that is what cancer did to my mom - throughout all the fear she began to LOVE on a level that few people ever get to do in their lives.
I often tell people "Yes, cancer ruined my family - but at the same time taught me more about love, strength, and family than any other force has."
So when I first touched that lump, I questioned everything I had done the same as my mother but also everything I had done differently. I thought I eat well, I exercise - I nursed my kids for 3+ years surely I get a free pass just off that? And for the 24 hours between finding a lump and waiting for an appointment - I held onto my kids and my family with the same grip she held onto my brother and I. And by the grace of G-d, I did get a free pass this time...I walked out of that office with a sense of renewal and a firmer determination to make sure that cancer doesn't get me or a loved one, or you!!
I have made it my mission this year to raise the bar on my participation in different cancer forums, organizations that are active not in simply finding a cure - but that take all preventative measures to try and help stop the disease before it starts. i.e. my participation in Breast Cancer Alliance- who fund training for some of the top Breast surgeons in America, so that I and other young women can be in the secure hands of knowledgeable doctors if we choose to have prophylactic surgery or with The Linda W. Daniel Foundation who have made challenging the athlete in you their mission to educate our generation on the benefits of exercise, diet and the power of prevention
I encourage everyone this year whether it’s a daily walk around your block, Sunday afternoon hike with your family, skiing this winter, gardening this spring, swimming this summer to get out there and move your bodies. And if your wife is driving you mad to try some new vegan/plant base dish she saw on Instagram - try it. You never know you might like it. Our lives are busy - they are important -but you and your health are important too - so listen to your body, it's telling you something!
To learn more about Breast Cancer Alliance visit breastcanceralliance.org.
Please Save the Date to join the LWDF Movers for the BCA's Annual Walk/Run for Hope on Sunday, May 6th!
"Rise, Fight, Inspire" was the theme of the BCA's 22nd annual Luncheon and Fashion Show held October, 2017 (Mia second from the right).
Gyesky kiddos fueling the BCA's 2017 Walk/Run for Hope with RISEcoffee!