My cousin Crystal died Saturday morning.

She was 48.

After a brutal battle with breast cancer, she could fight no longer.

The final days of her life were spent in a bedroom with her sister, my cousin, Roxanne, who is also dying.

The doctors say she will likely die before Christmas.

Breast cancer.

Both of my beautiful cousins will die from breast cancer.

I spoke with my aunt at length on the phone today.

She alternated between tremendous strength and overwhelming sadness.

She begged me to be careful. She spoke of breast self exams and mammograms.

We talked of her loss…both of her children.


Crystal has two children, both in their early 20s, neither of whom have children of their own yet.

As I try to comprehend what they are feeling, I can’t help but think of my own children.

And my aunt’s words echo in my ear…breast self exams and mammograms.

“Vigilent,” she said, “you must be vigilant.”

She spoke of cancer that had reached Crystal’s bones and finally her brain.

I think of my aunt and what she must feel when she’s trying to fall asleep at night.

Both of her children. Taken from her.

We should not outlive our children.

My heart is truly heavy.

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  1. Tonya lettersforlucas.com

    So true… we should never outlive our children.

    So sorry for your family's loss.

  2. MamaWantsThis mamawantsthis.com

    Nichole, I'm so, so sorry for your loss. And for your aunt's tremendous loss. Words are simply not enough.

  3. Oh, I am so terribly sorry for your loss. ((hugs))

  4. Kimberly mamasmonologues.com

    I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. Words are certainly not enough. {hugs}

  5. Oh I am heartbroken. You must heed your Aunt whispers and be vigilant.
    I'm so incredibly sorry for your loss. There are no words for this.

  6. julie gardner juliecgardner.com

    Oh, Nichole. I am so very sorry.

    My heart aches for you, for your aunt, for all those who have lost a loved one to breast cancer.

    I will admit right now that I am overdue for an appointment. I have a card reminding me that it's time for my yearly exam tucked away. And I'm getting it immediately and putting it by my computer so I can make the call. First thing in the morning.

    There. I just got it. I promise.
    So your message reached at least one person tonight.

    "We must be vigilant."

    Thank you for this reminder even as you grieve. Your cousin's legacy will be in your message.
    And in the love around her now.

    Around her always.

  7. Tracie fromtracie.com

    I am so very sorry for your loss, Nichole. Your family is in my prayers.

  8. My heart aches for your aunt, your family, you. I am so sorry, and will re-educate myself with the link you provided.

  9. Merry120 merrywithchildren.com

    I am so sorry for your family's loss. I need to be better about doing self exams. I do go every year for an exam but that is not enough. #cancersucks

  10. gigi

    This is so heartbreaking. I am truly sorry for you, your family and most of all, your aunt. Prayers coming out.

  11. sherrikuhn

    Oh Nichole, my heart is heavy for you tonight…we cannot even imagine the pain of losing your children to cancer. This was probably hard to write, but important for us to read.

  12. @dlebleu twitter.com/dlebleu

    My deepest and heartfelf sense of love and compassion for this family. Will be praying on many levels for peace, no pain, comfort be found. It is good to share this heartache – to know those are out there that really do matter. It helped me immensely to know there were others across the globe lifting me up as I faced a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment at age 39. W 4 young children. praying for a cure.

  13. Courtney themommymatters.com

    What a heartbreaking situation. So, so sorry for your family and your loss. Prayers for ALL of you!

  14. @2old2tap twitter.com/2old2tap

    I am so sorry for your loss. I send hugs. Please hug you Aunt an extra time, and let her know we are praying for her.

  15. Jaime ainsleylynn.blogspot.com

    I'm so sorry. Cancer is so horrible and takes so many before it's time. Thinking of you and your family.

  16. I am so, so very sorry for your loss. Your poor Aunt, your entire family 🙁 What an important message you are sharing, but I wish you didn't have to share it 🙁

  17. Kir thekircorner.com

    Oh I am so sorry, what a horrible loss and lesson for all of us. My prayers and thoughts are with you and your family at this unimaginable time.

    sending you as much love as I can. xo

  18. I am so sorry Nichole.
    My thoughts and prayers are with all of you.
    This is such a tragedy and this is why we all need to do our part in educating and fundraising to find cures.
    Gentle hugs friend

  19. John daddyrunsalot.com

    That's so very difficult.


  20. @skywaitress twitter.com/skywaitress

    Oh Nichole I am so sorry for your loss. You, your aunt and your whole family are in my thoughts.

  21. @ksluiter twitter.com/ksluiter

    oh Chole. I am so very sorry. We have loads of breast cancer in our family too. and other cancers. being vigilant is a habit.____your family is in my prayers, my friend.

  22. Evonne julesoutloud.blogspot.com

    I'm so sorry. You are your family will be in my thoughts.

    We must be vigilant. We should not outlive our babies.

  23. Ally twonormalmoms.blogspot.com/

    I am so sorry for your loss. Two cousins – I can't even fathom the heavy sadness on a family. My best friend's dad (who I have known since I was 4 – I grew up just 5 houses away) died of lung cancer, also Saturday morning. It was only diagnosed the day before – other health complications led to the diagnosis. He'd ignored symptoms for some time. Please be vigilant. Everybody.

  24. Jennifer

    I am so sorry for your loss! How horrible!

  25. Jessica mysimplycomplicated.com

    Cancer makes me sad. All types. All situations. This is just heartbreaking!

    I watched my grandmother lose her son to cancer (my dad) just two years ago and I don't know what will kill her seeing that his loss didn't. The pain must be immeasurable. It's not right. And, although everything in life isn't fair it makes me sad that of all things, these situations aren't.

    Praying for your family!

  26. thisismynewmoon

    I hate cancer. Two of my favorite people in this world were taken by cancer much too soon. I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you.

  27. Leigh Ann genieinablog.com

    Nichole, I'm so sorry to hear this. Thank you for being an advocate and reminding us how important self exams are.

  28. Kris prettyalltrue.com

    Love to you.

  29. Devan McGuinness accustomedchaos.com

    sending much love to you and your family. i am so sorry.

  30. Peggy

    A good friend of mine has breast cancer. She is going into surgery to have a mastectomy this Friday.
    I am so scared for her, but just put on a brave face with her, and make jokes like we were still in high school. Jokes about the boob job she is going to get out of this, and the tummy tuck from the reconstructive surgery, and the 8 hour "nap" while in surgery. I laugh and joke with her, then hang up the phone, and cry.
    Cancer sucks.

  31. Shell thingsicantsay.com

    I'm so sorry for your loss. Sending prayers for your family.

  32. Courtney 242reasons.blogspot.com

    I am praying for your entire family. Thank you for raising awareness.

  33. I am so sorry for your loss. I am thinking about you and your family.

  34. How heartbreaking!!! I am so sorry Nichole! My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. xoxoox

  35. I'm so sorry for your loss. It's so hard. breast cancer takes too many lives. 🙁

  36. BalancingMama 3momsin1.com

    My sincere condolences to you and all the family. What an important reminder for all of us.

  37. Christine

    that is devastating. and scary. your cousin is the second person I've heard about in as many days who died at 48 of breast cancer. it seems to me that this illness is touching more and more women at younger and younger ages.

  38. Anne livinthegreenblogg.com

    This post broke my heart. I am so sorry for your loss and your Aunts. I can't even begin to imagine what your family is going through. I was diagnosed at 30 when I was 8 months pregnant with my third son. Women check your boobies and if something doesn't feel right, don't wait, get it checked! Thank you for sharing your story Nichole.

  39. Missy | Literal Mom literalmom.com

    I am so, so sorry for your loss. I'll be thinking about you and your family.

  40. Mad Woman behind the Blog

    i am so very sorry Nichole. And your aunt, I can't imagine her sorrow. Prayers for your family, my friend.

  41. Kris krismulkey.com

    Nichole, so sorry for your loss. I can't imagine. {hugs} to you and your family.

  42. @RatZest twitter.com/RatZest

    Nichole, sorry for your loss. This is so hard. My prayers are with your family. xo

  43. tulpen tulpensbadwords.blogspot.com

    Heart wrenching.

  44. Jessica

    So sorry for your loss and I can't imagine what your aunt is going through. I lost a cousin to cancer last week too, she had not yet reached 40 and left behind two teenage daughters. The devastation of cancer is heartbreaking.

  45. @sogeshirts twitter.com/sogeshirts

    So sorry for your Aunt's loss and your loss Nichole. Losing two daughters like that would be just gutting.

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