My name is Jalen Parmele, I am a former NFL athlete. My parents adopted me out of Boynton Beach, Florida when I was just 36 hours old! Growing up, I watched my mom take on several health challenges due to her type 1 diabetes. She was on dialysis for several years, lost most of her vision in one eye and had occasions where she would go into shock due to low blood sugar. No matter what the challenge was she always fought back! That’s just who she was. A fighter.
The toughest challenge for her was probably raising 10 children, 8 of which were boys, and 8 of which she and my father adopted. In 2008, she was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer with no spread into the lymph node system. To be safe, she elected to have a double mastectomy so chances of breast cancer would not return. She began chemo in January of 2009. The chemo seemed to be successful. She appeared to have beat breast cancer! Two years later she was diagnosed with Stage 3 lung cancer. They found 3 spots parallel to her esophagus. She began chemo and radiation. Eventually they decided to continue just doing radiation because the combination was to intense. The spots on her lung shrank after radiation was completed. She later was experiencing some memory loss, they completed a scan on her brain and found 10 additional spots. She passed away in May 2011.
My mom was always tough. She never liked showing any sign of weakness. She made sure she got checked regularly because she knew breast cancer was hereditary in her family. I am not sure if the several years dialysis treatments ultimately weakened her immune system and made cancer inevitable. But I do know cancer affected all of my family. We lost a caring, loving mother to cancer.
Cancer lives inside all of us. Our cells are constantly fighting cancerous cells every day. I encourage all women to get mammograms regularly. Prevention is the key. If by chance abnormal cells are caught early, you will be giving yourself a chance to fight back!