During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Medix joins individuals, organizations and communities across the country in helping those affected by cancer through support and education. This October, we’re checking in with Medix teammates to hear how breast cancer has affected their families, careers and communities.

Michael and his siblings learned a lot from their mother, but nothing more valuable than the lesson to never, never, never give up. For today’s feature, we visited with Michael in California, weeks before his sister takes on the run of her life:

What’s your current role here at Medix?  

“I’m a recruiter on our Allied Healthcare team in Orange County, California.”

How has breast cancer affected your family?  

“My mother, Christina, courageously fought breast cancer for 6 years. She passed away on August 22, 2016 at 6:32 a.m. Michael Breast Cancer Awareness 2019 1While my mom was fighting breast cancer, she tested positive for the BRCA2 gene, which increases a woman’s odds of getting breast cancer and ovarian cancer. For men, it increases their chances of getting prostate and pancreatic cancer. These genes have a 50% chance of being passed down to the children of BRCA2 carriers.

My brother and I tested negative for the gene, but my sister tested positive. This happened during the last few years of my mother’s cancer fight and as my sister was moving from Arizona to New York. Just like my mom, my sister took the most aggressive approach possible and decided to proceed with a double mastectomy. This was a two surgery process that ultimately lowers her chances of being diagnosed with breast cancer for the rest of her life.”

What’s something most people might not know about the experience of a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment? 

“When my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, everything stopped. Our family no longer let little things – being stuck in traffic, dealing with a difficult client at work, getting into an argument with a friend, etc. – ruin our day.

My mom was worried about us; she didn’t want us to be scared even though she was. Our focus was to do everything we could to help her fight. Something that many people may not know is how important it is for the person that has been diagnosed with cancer and their family to remain positive because it makes a big difference. It may sound cliché, and its easier said than done, but I observed firsthand the impact a positive mindset can have and the difference it can make.”

What lessons have you and your family taken from this experience? 

“Chemotherapy and radiation took a heavy toll on my mother’s body over the years, but it never affected her will to fight, not one bit. Watching her fight cancer changed my definition of what a bad day really is. Every 3 to 4 months during treatment, my mom would get updates from the doctors about how the cancer was responding to the chemo/radiation she was receiving at that time. Those updates had a direct impact on how long they expected her to live. There were a few times her doctors told her there was nothing they could do, and told our family to prepare ourselves to say goodbye. My mother proved those doctors wrong, twice. She fought, improved her health and left the hospital.”

“My mom taught us how to fight, how to persevere, and how to be strong – all while having a beautiful smile on her face.”

Michael Breast Cancer Awareness 2019 2What can people do during Breast Cancer Awareness Month to support those affected by cancer? 

“My sister has decided to run in the New York City Marathon on November 3. In order to qualify for the marathon, contestants need to raise $3,500 for a charity of their choice. She has decided to raise money for Memorial Sloan Kettering, which is the hospital that performed her double mastectomy. She wants to give back to help other men and women that have been diagnosed with the BRCA gene. Any donations are greatly appreciated! Please click the link below to learn more about my mom and sister’s stories.”

If you’re interested in learning more about Michael’s family’s on-going race to raise awareness about breast cancer, we encourage you to visit their fundraising page here.