October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October 1, 2020

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As a woman and as an advocate for so many who have suffered medical issues, this has always been important to me. This year, however, that importance has greater meaning than ever before. Just like so many women worldwide, I get my mammogram yearly. While I don’t have breast cancer in my family, I still feel, particularly as a Plaintiff’s attorney and advocate against Medical Malpractice, that I must do my part to best assure my health and well-being. Have I been late or cavalier some years about scheduling this test? In all honesty, yes. Never again.

On March 1, 2020, while the rest of the world was being painfully introduced to Covid-19, my best friend Laura lost her battle with Breast Cancer. Laura and I had a friendship that spanned 30 years following law school and successful careers, mine as the Managing Partner of Kaveny + Kroll Trial Lawyers (www.kavenykroll.com) and hers as an author and advocate for exoneeres wrongly imprisoned. Despite our busy schedules and family commitments, we maintained a great connection.

In November of 2019, Laura learned that her once stage 1 breast cancer, which she thought was in her rearview mirror five years ago, had returned with the vengeance of stage 4. I invited Laura to move in with me and my four children, so that I could help her navigate her disease, and we hoped, her eventual recovery. It was not to be. Laura’s cancer had metastasized to her lungs and liver and eventually her brain. She underwent chemotherapy and radiation to try and squelch this, but became terribly ill from the treatment itself. She still had her laughter though. We shared last trips, great conversations, movies and popcorn nights in my living room.

My work as a Medical Malpractice attorney came in handy, not to sue her diligent team of physicians, but to accompany her to her appointments, serve as a second set of ears, take notes and help make decisions that were based on quality of life as much as quantity. Not only her friend, I was her power of attorney as well. In this role, together with Laura, we made the painful decision to end treatment and begin hospice care. It couldn’t have been more difficult if I were deciding this for myself. On Laura’s last night on this earth, I lay next to her, comforting her and I like to think, making her passage an easier one. I hope it was for her; I know it wasn’t for me.

Seven months and what seems like a lifetime later, it’s October, Breast Cancer Awareness month. While the Covid-19 crisis has blocked out virtually every other event, issue or illness, my promise to Laura and to any other woman who is or has battled Breast Cancer, is to keep hope alive. Just as we have these past 5 years, my daughters and I will again put pink streaks in our hair to remind everyone.

We have come so far in awareness, detection and treatment…but not far enough. Laura and the 40,000 others who lose their battles to breast cancer every year are testament to that. And for those who are fighting the good fight, Breast Cancer Awareness Month reminds us of the need for supportive friends and family, second opinions and strong advocates. For every woman, we need remember that despite the pandemic that looms large, we can’t forget, ignore or put off our regular screenings. Covid-19 will pass. Breast Cancer will likely long outlive it. I’ll remain vigilant, for myself, my mother, my sisters, my daughters…and for Laura. Please join me.

Elizabeth A. Kaveny, October 1, 2020