Karima Christmas is in her fourth WNBA season, her third with the Indiana Fever. Her mother, Jennita, is a breast cancer survivor.
Breast Health Awareness is something that is near and dear to my heart. Countless times we are reminded of this topic through various promotional forms, such as donating for a cure, 5K runs/walks, professional games that are designated to bring attention to the cause, or any of the other media devotions that come about.
While these things are an effort to remind people that breast cancer exists and many lives are affected by it, it never gets easier when you know someone who is directly impacted.
My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2003, and I felt like my whole world was crumbling before my eyes. I was a freshman in high school. My mother was always my biggest supporter in everything I did, and I felt like she was untouchable. Never in a million years would I have imagined her being put in a life-threatening situation such as this.
I wanted to be strong for her, but as a 13-year-old just starting high school, I was clueless and startled that something of this magnitude could hit so close to home. I thought for sure that if I was feeling this bad, my mother would be 10 times worse. But that was not the case -- at least not for anyone looking at her.
No matter how much pain or uncertainty my mother went through, from the outside looking in, you would never know. But that's the type of person she is -- she never lets anything (even breast cancer) define her. I believe that this is the way we should build awareness, through the stories of people directly influenced by breast cancer (or other cancers).
To this day, there is not a moment that I don't look back to those tough years and think about how it has helped mold not just my family, but my career.
To me, the fight against breast cancer is defined by perseverance. It is something that will play in your mind over and over, no matter if you've lost loved ones or if you have loved ones that are survivors.
The fight never gets easier, and in order to make it through, perseverance is key.
My mother is the strongest person I know. Without her positive outlook on life, and her will to never let anything define her, I don't know if I would be where I am today. It's because of her that I am the type of player I am.
There are always going to be highs and lows in this game, but I want to be known or remembered as a person who never gave in. I don't care much about headlines or interviews, but I care about the impact that I can make on the people who surround me (teammates and coaches) and the younger generation that I can give hope to.
My profession is bigger than being able to do what I love. It speaks volumes to the type of character that my mother instilled in me way before I realized it.
I hope I can help someone believe in themselves as much as my mother has helped me. I encourage others to support Breast Health Awareness, but more important, I encourage people to remember what those brave souls have gone through.
Whether we have lost the ones we loved or we've seen them make it through, they are the real heroes and we should pay tribute to them as much as we can.