Birthday Blessings.

This Thursday my mom will turn the big 5-0. Birthdays are always special, but this one feels especially victorious. She’s made it through a hard year struggling with treatment after treatment, surgery after surgery to combat her metastatic breast cancer.
And so we thought, what better reason to celebrate this milestone than with a surprise birthday party full of friends, family, flowers and good food?
flowers 2 cakes 1
My aunts [my dad’s sister and his brothers’ wives, and my mother’s sister], cousins and I emailed, called, schemed, and prayed for months to plan the party. And then we baked, and cooked, and whipped, and frosted, and decorated, and talked, and laughed.
bakers
It took a lot of prayer, a lot of planning, a lot of lying through my teeth and maybe more frosting than one body should really consume in one weekend, but we pulled it off. She was surprised!
No one spilled the beans, even though most of the party guests saw her in church yesterday morning. In faith, we refrained from canceling it even though she spent a few days in the hospital last week.
And in faith, we celebrated, thanking God for a beautiful day full of energy and joy and time together.
family 4
the suckrows
friends
hugs
Tina by cakes
It was everything we could have hoped for. I’m a happy, relieved, thankful kind of exhausted.
Maybe you and your family have reason to worry, to wonder what the next few months and years will be like, to think that maybe now is not the time to celebrate. I know how that feels.
But this weekend, all my fear and concern and doubt was replaced by something much more important :
Faith.
Faith to believe that even though it seems like a time to fear the future, tomorrow will be a good day. Faith to believe that life is worth celebrating, even when it’s hard. Faith to believe that He knows our hopes and plans, and He’s working on our behalf.
So, don’t hesitate to celebrate. Do it now. Do it while you can, even if you can’t be sure what today, tomorrow, or next week will hold. Do it together, because family is our best resource for support and strength.
Pray hard. Make memories. Eat everything. And whatever happens, choose to celebrate.

Puking Pink: My Adversity to Breast Cancer “Awareness” Campaigns

I’ll tell you the truth : I love October, but I hate breast cancer awareness month.
Please hear me out, because I’m the daughter of a breast cancer survivor.
To make a very long and painful story extremely short, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer 13 years ago. She had a mastectomy, chemo, and went into remission. Five years later, she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer – breast cancer that had moved to other parts of her body. First, it was a tumor that had wrapped itself around one of her lower vertebrae. Then, it was her femur, her humerus, her ribs. She had radiation treatments. She found a cancer treatment center to go to where the doctors could give her more holistic treatment options. She started taking vitamins and eating better and pursuing clinical trial treatments that might help her. In 2008, we found out that it spread to her liver. She still kept moving forward, finding more ways to treat her illness. Her list of treatments and counter-treatments is a million miles long.
Eight years after her second diagnosis, here she is. And here I am. We’ve learned a lot about what’s important to us, and we’ve learned that we are blessed beyond our wildest understandings. But that’s not to say that the heartache of living with cancer isn’t abundantly, painfully real to us.
We pray that someone finds a cure to this disease. We pray that others find the strength and the faith to battle their own diagnoses and that they can learn to advocate for themselves. We pray that people learn to pay attention to their own bodies, their own health histories, their own well-being.
However, I just cannot stomach the pink-ribboned, horrifically over-sexualized, over-commercialized breast cancer “awareness” campaigns that have come out in recent years. Whether it’s buying a bag of chips with a pink ribbon on it, sporting a “Feel Your Boobies” t-shirt, or posting a vague and suspiciously sexual statement in a Facebook status, it has all become an easy target for manufacturers and commercial advertisers to target their most vulnerable and influential demographic: women.
Should we be donating to a good cause and raising awareness? Yes. But at what cost?
Even the products that sport the pink ribbon have been known to contain harmful cancer-causing chemicals. And there are other campaigns meant to “raise awareness” that raise questions about their moral and ethical treatment of women.
So the question becomes: are these companies milking the breast cancer issue and are you willing to continue buying into their exploitation?
Because here’s the thing: raising awareness and finding a cure breast cancer is a good cause. But not all campaigns “for a good cause” are good for us.