Awareness: My Sister Rocks.

April 14, 2011 · 73 comments

People generally say good things come in three. So do bad things.

Last week, my family got some news that was hard to swallow.

My sister, Amy, has breast cancer.

2011 has been a rough year for me with my recent events, but it’s been especially hard on my family. Namely, my dad and my sister.

After my dad being diagnosed with his aggressive prostate cancer this past November, we’re in the calm of the storm for his recovery. Amy’s news kind of sent us all reeling.

Daddy and his girls

Amy is my big sister. I’ve adored her since the day I was born. I’m still told stories about how psyched she was to get a baby sister when I was on the way, and as silly as it sounds, I love knowing how much she “wanted” me.

yeah, I was born with red hair. it fell out and I grew blonde locks. don’t hate.

I mean, really… look at that adoration.

I’ve looked up to her my entire life. She’s so smart. She’s so pretty. She’s so compassionate. She’s so loving. And she’s always said that Doug (our brother) and I got the funny genes. She’s wrong. She’s pretty funny herself. πŸ˜‰

and she’s obv always shared my love for ruffles.

we’ve shared each other’s milestones together, as sisters do.

And she’s been there for me in my life every step of the way. Whether I’m up, down, healthy, or struggling, Amy has always been a solid rock in my life. And I’m so thankful I’ve been lucky enough to have a big sister like her.

Amy is 36. Women are supposed to have their first mammogram at age 40.

The only reason Amy had a mammogram at her age is because a traveling breast cancer van came to the school at which she works. SheΒ  was asked to coordinate the sign-ups for the van, and she needed to
fill 10 spots. She couldn’t get the spots all filled, so she took a spot first, and then told everyone she was doing it, so they should too. She was flagged from that test, and went for further testing.

She found out a few days later she had cancer.

Had Amy waited until she was 40 to get her mammogram, she would need extensive chemotherapy and her life would be much, much more at risk. Yes, this is serious, but it would be so much more serious had she waited.

SO. For my sister, check with your insurance company. Ask them for the earliest age they cover mammogram screenings. And once you hit that age, go get tested.

Amy is a sister, a mother, a daughter, an aunt, a granddaughter, and a teacher. No matter who you are, be proactive. Research. Spread awareness.

And do me a favor and send some prayers up for her. I love my big sister so much, and I’m going to be there for her through all of this mess.

‘Cause as you know, Cancer’s got nothin’ on us Halters.

Pass it on: 35 is the new 40.

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{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

1 mickiruns April 14, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Praying so much for your and your family.

Alyssa, I just want to say that your family is so blessed to have you. Your positive attitude towards all the hardships is, I’m sure, a beacon of light that they need. You are definitely a rock in the family.

I truly hope I get to meet you at MCM.

((Big, huge, bear wrapping hugs for you and yours))


2 Claire @ Live & Love to Eat April 14, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Keeping your sister and family in my prayers. You are so right to focus on the positive of early detection. I went through PC with my dad and know how scary the process can be.


3 Jess (In My Healthy Opinion) April 14, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Alyssa, I’m so sorry to hear about Amy. Your family seems so incredibly strong, positive, and united through all of this, and that is beautiful to see. Please know that your family is in my thoughts and prayers. Lots of hugs! xo


4 getalivingsense April 14, 2011 at 4:43 pm

This made me tear up! I’m so sorry that your family is having to go through this again. At least she didn’t wait until 40, and can start being treated asap! I will definitely be praying for you and your family. Your sister is lucky to have you there for her! Stay strong girl, lots of love!


5 Colleen @ The Lunchbox Diaries April 14, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Alyssa, I’m so so terribly sorry to hear about your sister. My heart sank when I read about the diagnosis. You, your sister, and your whole family are in my prayers.


6 alex April 14, 2011 at 4:54 pm

I am so sorry. I have always thought you should get a mammogram when you start going to the gyno. better safe.

prayers your way. I wish the best for you and your family.

the ruffles btw – i love it!


7 applesnoats April 14, 2011 at 4:57 pm

I’m so sorry for everything you and your family have been going through!my prayers will definitely be heading your way!


8 Marg April 14, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Sorry to hear this, what a blessing she discovered it early. All the best to everyone in your family! I just read some of the risks and was surprised to learn some! Thanks for the post!


9 movesnmunchies April 14, 2011 at 5:21 pm

ohmy gosh.. im so sorry to hear this but honeslty HOW amazing is it that she caught it early- that makes ALL THe difference- im keeping you all in my prayers.. but i know everything is going to turn out well!


10 runyogarepeat April 14, 2011 at 5:53 pm

I’ll keep your family in my prayers! You sound like you have such a strong relationship with your family, so it’s great for her to be supported & loved by so many people.


11 Michelle April 14, 2011 at 5:58 pm

Oh, Alyssa, I am so sorry to hear this. I am definitely keeping you, your sister, your dad, and the rest of your family in my thoughts and prayers.


12 Kimberley April 14, 2011 at 6:41 pm

I just got goosebumps from reading your post. My prayers and thoughts are with you at this hard time πŸ™‚ My mom is a breast cancer survivor so I have been in your shoes…. It is SO good she caught it early.

Your sister is gorgeous, just like you! I am praying for her.


13 carlee April 14, 2011 at 7:03 pm

This is such a sweet post. I am SO sorry! I WILL defintily be praying for her!
Be strong for her!!!

Hugs and prayers are sent your way! Remember God is in control! πŸ™‚


14 Hungry Dancer April 14, 2011 at 7:14 pm

I am so sorry for all the bad news! It’s good she caught it early and I will be praying for her!!!


15 Vixter2010 April 14, 2011 at 7:38 pm

So sorry to hear that but well done on creating awareness. Having your support must give her strengh! Best wishes to you all xx


16 missymiller April 14, 2011 at 7:40 pm

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…I wish I could do more than leave this sprinkle of Love˚
˚. β˜… *Λ› ˚β™₯* βœ°γ€‚Λš Λšαƒ¦γ€‚* Λ›Λš β™₯ γ€‚βœ°Λš* ˚ β˜…αƒ¦ ˚ γ€‚βœ° β€’* ˚ β™₯”


17 Stephanie @ lungesandlunch April 14, 2011 at 7:44 pm

I have both of you in my thoughts and prayers. I’m sorry to hear about her diagnosis, but it sounds like she has a strong support in you. That kind of love is invaluable in recovery.


18 Sable@SquatLikeALady April 14, 2011 at 8:41 pm

You and your sister are in my prayers! I am so glad you have each other.


19 Emma (Sweet Tooth Runner) April 14, 2011 at 9:10 pm

This made me tear up :'( Your attitude though is AMAZING- you guys WILL beat it together!! God is with you always, and I’ll pray for you all πŸ™‚



20 happytalesblog April 14, 2011 at 9:36 pm

Awwww Alyssa, I am so sorry to hear this news. (And I’m so sorry I’m just now finding out, i’ve been soooo MIA this week!).

I actually just found out some similar news last week in regards to cancer in my family — my stepdad was dianosed with melanoma last Monday. Needless to say, it looks like we have lots of bonding and good talks ahead of us this weekend… !! Can’t wait to see you!


21 Shanna, like Banana April 14, 2011 at 9:47 pm

This post was so honest, so real, so important to share. Thank you for telling your family’s story. And all the well wishes and positive vibes to your sister!


22 Ma Ma Megan April 14, 2011 at 10:08 pm

My thoughts are with your sister and your family, I can’t imagine how hard this must be.
I agree with Carrie, thank GOD you caught this early.


23 owlmazing April 14, 2011 at 10:35 pm

So sorry to hear about that. Sending happy thoughts your way! It’s so great it was caught early though, I think God may have sent that truck to her! And I’m not even religious! Here’s to a speedy recovery and a long life after that.


24 Jenny April 14, 2011 at 11:13 pm

My prayers go out to your family. Dealing with cancer is a very strenuous situation. I wish you all the best and all the positivity in the world


25 Danielle April 14, 2011 at 11:35 pm

Amy is so lucky to have a sister like you! Prayers going up for her and your family!!!


26 Parita April 14, 2011 at 11:59 pm

I’m so sorry to hear this, Alyssa. Your sister and family are in my thoughts and prayers. I’m honestly crying right now because you two remind me of me and my sister, and I can’t imagine what you’re going through, but I know you’ll get through it. Stay strong!


27 Kristina April 15, 2011 at 12:03 am

Keeping your family in my prayers-keep your head up love!


28 Sophia @ Raven Waves April 15, 2011 at 12:09 am

I’m so sorry to hear about your sister. My prayers are with you and your family!


29 Brittany April 15, 2011 at 12:23 am

Sweet girl, i’m so sorry! Keeping you, your sister, and your family in my prayers!


30 Lee April 15, 2011 at 12:30 am

I’ll be thinking of your sister and sending good vibes your way.


31 mego@watchmegorun April 15, 2011 at 12:31 am

I’m so sorry, sending positive thoughts, hugs, and prayers to you and your fam πŸ™


32 simplyshaka April 15, 2011 at 1:23 am

OMG this post made me cry. I loved all the pics though. Sending some good vibes your family’s way.


33 Jenn @ Peas & Crayons April 15, 2011 at 3:26 am

I told you a while back about my fam’s history with cancer — and this post touched me AGAIN all over. Thank god she got tested early!!!!! ohmygosh that would have been so awful if she didn’t find out until 40 and it was too big or spread! omg!

Keep me posted on your beautiful sister? and your dad too? I’m hoping the best for you and your family! i’m here any time you want to cancer bash and chat! <3 xoxo


34 Haughty by Nature April 15, 2011 at 3:45 am

What a beautiful post…you guys are lucky to have each other. And if bad things happen by threes, then good things happy by three-hundreds. There’s a reason she got this detected so early, and that’s because she’s meant to get through it!

Sending positive thoughts your way!


35 dressed2dish April 15, 2011 at 3:58 am

Your sister and family are in my thoughts and prayers. I’m so glad she got tested earlier! And you’re right 35 is the new 40 ~ we should definitely aim to get tested earlier! x0x0


36 Bella April 15, 2011 at 4:37 am

I’ll be sending love and happy thoughts into the atmosphere for your sister.


37 myhighonlife April 15, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Aw so sorry to hear this news. My thoughts, prayers, and love go out to you & your family. It’s a blessing in disguise that she found out early enough and not 4 years down the road.


38 Nicola Blocksidge April 15, 2011 at 5:46 pm

Sorey to butt in on your blog! You don’t know me but shared halls with Amy when she came to England on a university exchange programme.

I just wanted say that i am so sorry to hear this news, and that you are all in my thoughts and prayers. Amy is one of the nicest, sweetest most thoughtful people that i have ever come across.

Nicola xxx


39 Jill April 15, 2011 at 8:00 pm

What a horrible thing to find out!! I wish the very very best for your sister and family. You sound like such a strong family that will be able to overcome everything — I’m sure your sister will be even healthier and stronger when all is said and done!!


40 Courtney @ The Granola Chronicles April 15, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Oh – I am so sorry to hear this. Sending prayers to your sister and family.


41 Meg April 16, 2011 at 3:14 am

I’m so sorry love! You and your family are ALWAYS in my prayers. She WILL get through this!!


42 Gina April 16, 2011 at 1:56 pm

I’m so sorry to hear this news πŸ™
Praying for your sister & your family!


43 what katie's baking April 16, 2011 at 8:59 pm

ooh my gosh alyssa, this post broke my heart.
i’m SO sorry to hear about your sister and i’m praying. she looks like an AMAZING woman!! must run in the family πŸ™‚
it’s so good of you to make everyone aware of this.
xoxo!! sending my hugs!! πŸ™


44 Katelyn April 16, 2011 at 10:46 pm

Oh love:( My heart is with you and your family. My Mom is a breast cancer survivor of four years and has gone through chemo, radiation, the whole shebang, so if your sister EVER wants anyone to talk to about the process and connect with someone who’s been there, my Mom would love to talk to her – she’s very active in the Breast Cancer Coalition in our city and she loves helping other women get through the emotional journey of cancer patients! Please keep me updated on your sis, I know exactly what it is like to have a loved one in jeopardy and it is one of the hardest things to go through. My Mom said that it was probably harder for us (her family) than for her, because she knew that she was doing all she could, but the rest of us just felt helpless.

My advice: love every moment with your sister, and take this opportunity to watch lots of funny movies and eat the best food you know how to make:) And take advantage of every offer for help – the offers to take her to chemo when you can’t be there, rides to the doctor, offers to make meals…it all makes SUCH a huge difference. Through my mom’s cancer, car accident, and then my dad’s head injury, I always said I didn’t want help, but finally during my dad’s injury, our neighbors insisted to bring meals and help us out (shoveling the driveway, etc.) and after awhile, I stopped feeling embarrassed about accepting help and finally realized how much of a difference it made. Truly, everything that people did lifted stress off of our shoulders that we couldn’t even realize were there because we were so scared about our parents.

When they say “live every moment like it’s your last”, this is the time to take it to heart..even though it is sometimes so so hard.

I love love love you babydoll, if you ever want to talk e-mail me, skype me, anything I’ll be there for you. Pass on my love to your sister and your family for me <3


45 Ali April 16, 2011 at 10:52 pm

I’m praying for your whole family! News like this is never easy–the best thing to do now is have faith! Both of my parent’s are cancer survivors (my mom had breast cancer). She felt a lump 3 months after her yearly mammogram. Had she not been checking, the cancer could have continued growing until the following year’s mammogram. As women it is imperative that we are proactive with our health and to know our bodies.

I wish nothing but the best for your sister and your dad. I know first hand how hard it can be to watch a loved one go through something like this. You are a strong girl! I’m thinking of you and your family!


46 Katherine: Unemployed April 17, 2011 at 10:58 am

THANK you for this message. our sorority prayer group will have your sister in thought today


47 Amy @ countrystrong21 April 17, 2011 at 6:08 pm

My thoughts and prayers are with your sister and your family. I know what you’re going through as someone in my family was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, and a family friend who is around your sister’s age was also diagnosed.


48 Holly at Greek Yogurt and Apple Slices April 17, 2011 at 10:36 pm

Wow. I don’t even know what to say, except that your sister is SO brave! I am in tears just reading your story. But I am SO glad that she caught it so early.
And I hope you keep us updated! (please do!!) My thoughts & prayers are with you, your sister & your family.


49 Elin @andserenitytoo April 18, 2011 at 10:23 am

Such a beautiful post. I am so sorry… great though that they caught it that early on! My aunt had breast cancer (which they also caught early) and now she is 100% recovered! You and your family are in my thoughts, sending loads of positive vibes your way!


50 angie April 19, 2011 at 12:19 am

Just got the news today, this afternoon… Thinking of you all. I wish I had words, but right now I can’t even see the screen through my tears… Love and Hugs. Angie


51 Lisa (I'm an Okie) April 20, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Praying for her!! I’m so thankful that it sounds like she caught it early!


52 This Italian Family April 20, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Okay seriously, I’m a bad friend. How has it been six days since I last checked your blog? This is what happens when I’m out of town and Google Reader hits 550 unread, haha. But seriously, finally am catching up now and I’m so sorry I wasn’t here to encourage you when you first found out. I definitely teared up reading this post. I can’t even imagine one of my sisters dealing with this. My oldest sister is in her 30s too and I’m thinking she and I are going to be having a little chat about this. I will definitely send up a prayer for your sister and family. You are definitely dealing with a lot right now and I am amazed at how strong you are. You are such a special lady, Alyssa!


53 BC Survivor April 21, 2011 at 3:06 am

Hi Alyssa,
I am a young breast cancer survivor, too. I will be here if your sister needs someone to talk to when she is scared and needs a soft place to fall. I have a feeling that she has a pretty strong support system at home, but it is nice to talk to someone that has been there.

Please direct your sister to the Young Survivors Coalitation ( for women diagnosed before age 45. She will find loads of support from sisters that will be there to guide her along the way. They have an annual conference that will offer her a chance to meet her new “BC sisters” and learn about new treatments.

It is also wise for her to get BRCA tested to see if she carries a BC gene mutation that could be passed to her children and sister. I know it is a scary process, but a wise one for her and your health. Amy needs to get tested first, if she is negative, then you do not need to to be tested. However, if she is positive for BRCA 1 or 2, it is recommended that her daughters and sister be tested along the way.

My BC was hormone positive which means it is fed by estrogen and progestron (sp?). This is especially important to know in her case and this info is on her pathology report. I hope this information is helpful.

Prayers for Amy and your entire family are on their way right now.
Amy will be just fine with you by her side!


54 heather November 6, 2011 at 7:32 am

what a beautiful post for such yucky news. i adore the photo of her holding you as a newborn, and though she is lovely in every pic, she is esp. so in the one with the teal bridesmaid (?) dress. i <3 the love in each of the photos.

at age 36, my little sis underwent treatment for stage 3 melanoma last year. all is well now. tonight is the first time i've visited your blog, so i pray your sister is well and thriving!


55 Katy @ HaveYouHurd November 8, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Just found out about your sister and dad from your Marathon posts. I’m so sorry to hear. I just found out my mom has Stage 4 lung cancer about a month ago and I’m trying to cope with that. I love your singlet you wore in the marathon and I’m thinking about getting on to support my mom. I also hope to run the MCM next year. I have a half marathon planned in DC St. Patty’s day for preparation. It’s nice to read a blog of someone who is interested in and going through a lot of the same things as myself and who can always seem to make me laugh – you’re awesome!
Katy @ HaveYouHurd recently posted…Day 8: Be Thankful ChallengeMy Profile


56 Caitlin January 6, 2012 at 12:05 am

I’m a new reader and I am SO glad I stumbled upon this post. My big sister, too, was diagnosed with breast cancer this summer at the age of 26. A couple week after her diagnosis she found out she was also pregnant with her first child. She underwent a lumpectomy and just finished her last round of chemo a month ago. The baby will be delivered in 6 weeks, and then she will endure 6 weeks of radiation. Looks like we both have some amazingly strong sisters in our lives! Prayers for you, your sister, and the rest of your family. Cancer is CRAPPY, but they are fighters <3


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