Wednesday, May 15, 2013

My Journey to Komen

Susie & I- 2006

2007-Pregnant with Noah

2008- Noah's 1st Race for the Cure

2009- Noah, Mommy, & Aunt Susie walking in the Race
Cousins- 2008

2010- 4 1/2 months pregnant with Jackson

2011- Jackson's 1st Race for the Cure

10 more years with these boys is not enough!

THIS is why I race for the cure!
2011- Jackson gets a medal from his 1st kids run

My Journey to Komen~ Brenda Joy McBride

 My passion in the fight against breast cancer began on a deeply personal level. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at the young age of 47. Like many mothers, she was a caretaker. She took care of her husband, my father, for over 25 years. She took care of me and my two sisters. She took care of her students, as she was an elementary and Sunday school teacher. She took care of our home, our gardens, our meals, our crazy schedules. She took care of our church, as she was a preacher’s wife and ministered to all of God’s children. Like many mothers, in the day-to-day hustle and bustle of life, she frequently cared for others before she even cared for herself. That is what moms do. One year she accidentally didn’t schedule her annual mammogram. Nobody thought anything of it, as she had previously had no problems noted on her regularly scheduled mammograms. In the business of her life, one year… and only one year… she did not receive a mammogram. My precious mother was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer the one year she did not receive a mammogram. She endured sickening chemotherapy, a mastectomy, radiation treatment, and several hospitalizations in her battle against this deadly disease. She battled this disease with a grace and a strength I had never witnessed before, and have never witnessed since.  When the fear of losing my precious mother overwhelmed me and my family, she gracefully stated, “Fear not.  Only Believe.”  As my sisters and I were all college cheerleaders, we even made her words into a cheer to make her smile. “Fear not!! Only believe!!”  Those words are written on her grave stone. 

There are certain things we experience in our lifetime that change us forever.  The death of my mother did just that; changed me forever.  I had a decision to make: get lost in the grief and sadness and let that engulf me…or try to find MEANING out of this devastating loss.  Cancer might’ve taken my mother’s hair, her health, and eventually her life…but it didn’t take her faith, her hope, her love, her grace, her spirit.  And cancer can’t take my cherished memories.  I wanted to honor her life by the life I lived.  Shortly after her death, I participated in my first Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Houston, Texas.  I remember looking at all the breast cancer survivors wearing pink hats.  And although, I felt glad for their survival, I also felt a deep sadness inside.  “Why didn’t my mom get to wear a pink hat? She should’ve had a pink hat.”  But that was not God’s plan.  I remember becoming overwhelmed with emotion when I sprinted across the finish line holding my little sister’s hand.  The tears streamed down my face, but it felt good. I was able to do something positive with my grief, raise money and awareness for breast cancer, and honor the life of my mother…in what some people may view as just a simple 5k run.  But the Susan G. Komen 5k run was SO MUCH MORE.  It allowed me to acknowledge my loss and my pain, push through it (literally across the finish line), and be inspired and encouraged by the other race participants who raced in honor and in memory of their dear ones.  From my first race in Houston, Texas, I was hooked.  I’ve been racing ever since; for the past 15 years. 

As the years passed, I continued my effort to find meaning from my loss.  I was so inspired by the social workers that helped my mother and my family through her treatment, that I entered the social work profession.  I wanted to help others the way I had been offered hope and encouragement during a dark time in my life.  When helping to plan a breast cancer event hosted by ETMC, the Vice President at the Cancer Institute said to me, “You are clearly passionate about this.  Why aren’t you working for me?”  Shortly thereafter, I began leading the breast cancer support groups for ETMC.  Through my relationships with these wonderful women, I found further meaning from my loss as well as inspiration from their stories.

As I developed personal relationships with more survivors through the breast cancer support group, at each Race for the Cure event, I felt a little less saddened and a little more comforted when I saw the ladies wearing the pink hats.  But I wanted to do more; to give back more to this amazing sisterhood of survivors and this organization that gave me hope during my personal time of loss.  I began volunteering on the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Committee following the birth of my first son.  As I began my personal journey into motherhood, I suddenly became fully aware of the pain I would feel if I had to leave my children all-too-soon due to this devastating disease.  I did not want my children to have to endure the pain of losing their mother, as I had lost mine.

            As Tyler’s Race for the Cure is traditionally held on the Saturday before Mother’s Day, it became an instant tradition in my growing family for us to all race for the cure each Mother’s Day weekend.  My sisters and their children often join us for this special event…so much more than “another 5k walk/run,” as a way to honor our mother’s memory and support Susan G. Komen’s efforts to find a cure to help end breast cancer forever.  I’ve continued to volunteer for Komen Tyler and race for the cure through the years as my family has grown from a young married couple to a family of four.  My children now participate in the kids run, and somehow this brings me comfort…as if things are coming full circle…or so I thought.

            Enter Jennifer Watkins, who approached me regarding whether I would consider serving as the co-chair for the 2013 Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.  This was not on my radar.  I was always happy participating as a Komen committee member, and I felt comfortable with my seasoned role on the committee.  I knew that a greater level of time and commitment was necessary to serve as a co-chair.  I thought to myself, “Brenda, you’ve got to be kidding. You already have two jobs. You already have two kids and a husband.  You can’t do this.”  That was my first thought. Then Jennifer explained that the 2013 Race for the Cure was an extra-special event because it is the 15th Anniversary of Tyler’s Susan G. Komen for the Cure.  This stopped me dead in my tracks and I knew that, once again, my plan was not God’s plan.  You see, as this year commemorates the 15th year of the race for the cure in Tyler, it also coincides with the 15th anniversary since the death of my precious mother to breast cancer.  I knew that this was no coincidence, and gladly accepted this honor to serve as the co-chair for the 15th Anniversary of the Tyler’s Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. 

I am now approaching age 40.  I am painfully aware that my mother lost her battle to breast cancer at age 50.  That’s only about 10 years older than I am today! I think about the precious faces of my 5 year old, Noah, and my 2 year old, Jackson…and I know that 10 years is not enough time to have left with my precious children.  Time is a precious gift, indeed.  Just as there was not enough time with my mother, there was not enough time for so many other courageous breast cancer warriors. What if you found out today that it is your mother, your wife, your sister, your daughter, your friend...who is given the diagnosis of breast cancer? Would you feel like you had enough time?  What if YOU were given this diagnosis?  Would you feel that you have had enough time with YOUR loved ones?  I can answer these questions loud and clear.  The answer is a clear and resounding NO!  The time is now.  Because I know that it just may be the steps I take crossing the finish line…that help find a cure for breast cancer.  This is why I race. This is why I volunteer. The time is now.  Please join me and Komen as we fight to end breast cancer forever.  I echo the words of my mother, “Fear Not. Only Believe.”

2005- Denise, Susie, & I



















  1. Have I told you how amazing you are, B? When you talk about your mom, I feel so much love!! SO MUCH. And I always wish I had known her and I think how VERY PROUD she must be of the daughter she raised and the mother she has become. Love you, my friend.

  2. Beautiful...... I am otherwise speechless... *wipes away tear*.