Posted by: Mike Whitmore | October 6, 2009

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month – Our Story

It was to be our last, magical getaway vacation together, though we didn’t know it at the time.

I had flown down to Salt Lake on Wednesday evening to participate in a Leadership Conference at BYU that Thursday and Friday of October, 2007 and Deborah flew in that Friday night.  This getaway was unusual as we had left our three children with friends and we were just the two of us which we hadn’t done in . . . a long time?  Let’s just say, several years.

We stayed in the brand new Marriott in downtown Salt Lake, slept in luxury, attended a  Saturday session of the LDS General Conference and lunched with other participants in the conference from around the world.  We enjoyed the company of this crowd and then the quiet relaxation of our hotel.  Without the children this was a quite pause in our hectic life of figuring out what the kids needed to wear, piano lessons, play dates, what to eat, homework, school nights, chores, whatever . . . it was just us, like it was when we had met 18 years earlier.

It was during this trip that Deb felt a pain in her left breast.

She suffered with arthritis and fybromyalgia for 12 years and was used to pains in her body.  This one was different.  It was so painful it was interfering with her sleep.

Deb had an incredible interest in the medical field and also a knack for correctly diagnosing problems in others. She thought this pain was probably a cyst or an inflammation of some type.  She was 38 years old and no family history of cancer, so neither of us foresaw what was to come.

Her doctor recommended she get a breast scan just to be sure it wasn’t something more serious.  Neither of us suspected that it would be, that it could possibly be, anything other than an inflamed duct or cyst, so she went in for the test and I went to work.

I was in a conference room at one of the non-profits I volunteer at when the call came from the Radiologist at Overlake Hospital in Bellevue.  Her voice, calm and firm, said I needed to come to the hospital right away.  She would not answer any of my questions over the phone other than to insist I get there as quickly as possible.

I’m sure I made that drive in record time, pleading with God that this wasn’t cancer, that it couldn’t possibly be, that she had already suffered so much . . .

As I entered into the room where Deborah was we both burst into tears and embraced tightly and we could not be consoled.

Breast tumors are considered large and very dangerous if they show a size of 5 cm. Deb’s measured 10 cm in length.

I share this to remind all women, no matter your age, that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.  Please, I urge you, knowing how uncomfortable it can be, to be examined this month.  Men, please urge your loved ones to take the proper steps now to receive their examinations and realize that anyone may get this disease.


Mike Whitmore



  1. Thanks for sharing this powerful story. Really hits home. And here’s an easy way to help raise awareness: check out these 30 sec breast cancer related videos — — and click to vote for one or all. The top vote getters in the contest will be aha moment TV commercials next year. That’s real media exposure for the cause!


  2. Mike,
    This is not just for women. My husband is a 22 year breast cancer survivor. He too had pain in his pectoral tissue. A biopsy revealed a malignant tumor. A modified mastectomy, a ton of brutal radiation, a year of chemo, and five years of tamoxifin. We are lucky. But his sister was not so lucky. She too succumbed and left behind two small children.
    Vigilance is required in both men and women…as we all have breast tissue.
    With warm regards,
    Shannon Evans

    • Thanks for sharing your experience as well. Amazing how this disease affect so many people.

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