photo courtesy of Ilene Haiber
More than 2.8 million women were either currently being treated, or had been treated, for breast cancer as of 2015, according to Breastcancer.org. That’s inarguably a huge number, but for some reason we always have this tendency to believe that it won’t happen to us.
This way of thinking completely changed for me when my mother sat me down at the dinner table last year and told me she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
My mother, Ilene Haiber, is a guidance counselor at Neptune High School. She has worked with kids all her life, whether it be as a teacher, counselor or mother. She has a loving family — her husband Tommy and three daughters.
She loves the beach, and would live there if she could in the summer. She’s always been extremely sympathetic as well as empathetic to others, and tends to put other people’s problems before her own.
Young at heart, Ilene has always taken the title of the “cool mom” when it came to the opinion of mine and my sister’s friends. She’s understanding and easy to talk to, and is not only an amazing mother, but a genuine best friend to me and my sisters.
“I Really Didn’t Think I Had It”
My mom first called me in April, 2015, to tell me that the day after her routine mammography, she received a call to come back in for further testing. My mom was totally calm on the phone telling me this, which I thought was strange, because usually she is the type of person to worry about everything.
She told me she wasn’t going to worry about anything just yet, because the same thing happened two years ago, and it turned out to just be density. I didn’t necessarily understand what was going on, so I just trusted my mother’s optimism and waited.
I was at school finishing up the spring semester in Philadelphia while my mom was back home in New Jersey going through the tests.
“When I went back for further testings they said I had to make an appointment for an ultrasound. They were pretty sure it was nothing, but wanted to be positive. When I went for the ultrasound the next week, they asked me if I had been sick.