“I chose to get strong and fight”

My name is Irene Lerner and I am a proud breast cancer survivor of five years. One week ago I received a phone call as devastating as my own diagnosis. 

“Aunt Irene, I found a lump in my breast.” 

Irene and Frank Lerner

My niece has Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor-2 (HER2) Positive Breast Cancer. Her first question was “How? How did you do it? How did you go through it?” I simply told her; “You fight the fight, you do whatever it takes. You will go through hell and back, but you will win.”

The news of her diagnosis reminded me of my own battle with the disease. I was diagnosed in September of 2005, just four months after I lost my husband of 48 years to a devastatingly short battle with lung cancer. I, like every other woman (or man) diagnosed with breast cancer, had two choices. I could give up or I could get strong. Having just lost the love of my life, giving up seemed easier, but with the love and support of my two sons, my heroes, the captains of my dream team, I chose to get strong and fight. 

I won. 

My family, friends and physicians continue to be the angels on my shoulder. They continue to help me fight and now it’s my turn to be someone’s angel. Standing by my niece’s side every step of the way, she will fight this disease and she will win. 

As I walk with my supporters in the Race for the Cure  here in Columbus and volunteer for the LUNGevity Foundation in memory of my husband, I’m fighting so others can win.

My husband also battled Polio as a young man. Thanks to medical advancements through research, our children and grandchildren are now protected from that disease. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to also find such a cure for all cancers? 

If we continue to join together to fight, like I fought, like so many have fought, as my niece will fight, we can win, we can beat this disease together. 

BY: Irene Lerner


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