I will never forget the day I received the phone call. It was September of 2011, when Andrea, Avery’s adoptive mom, called. It wasn’t out of the norm for Andrea to call me. She was after all Avery’s mom, and our open adoption relationship was better than I’d ever dreamed it would be. We’d always been close and talking on the phone was not a rare thing.

I had just had a baby of my own and as I sat rocking her back in forth in the rocking chair when Andrea had called. This wasn’t an ordinary phone call, however, and I realized this pretty quickly after picking up.

Andrea began explaining to me that she had recently been to her doctor to discuss IVF treatment and while she was there, she had mentioned a lump she’d found under her right armpit. The doctor scheduled her for a mammogram less than a week later, which turned into a biopsy. Two days after that, she received the call that it was Stage 2 invasive ductal breast cancer.  She would be doing eight rounds of chemo, going in every two weeks for the next  five months. I was heartbroken for her. How was this fair?

After her diagnosis, Andrea sent out an email to her family and close friends telling them about her diagnosis. After reading the email, her cousin’s wife decided she should be checked to be safe. Turned out that she had the same cancer, but further advanced.

As the days and weeks turned to months, I watched as Andrea gracefully conquered this cancer. It was humbling to watch her experience this with so much positivity and there was no doubt in my mind that she’d destroy this terrible illness. It’s been five years since she was diagnosed, and she was officially declared cancer free last month!

While I’m embarrassed to admit it, I had never been one to think twice about going in for my yearly appointment, or receiving a mammogram. But Andrea’s story made me much more aware of just how dangerous cancer is and how it can affect anyone, no matter what age they are. In honor of breast cancer awareness month, I encourage every woman to schedule a screening. While you think it may not happen to you, there’s always a chance and you can never be too cautious. I’m so grateful that Andrea was proactive in her circumstance. If she hadn’t been, her story could’ve ended much differently, leaving sweet Avery without a Mommy.