The Forgotten Mourners of Breast Cancer Awareness/ Breast Cancer Awareness: Entendre of Survivor Status

By Kim Knight | Oct 24, 2022

The Forgotten Mourners of Breast Cancer Awareness/ Breast Cancer Awareness: Entendre of Survivor Status

By Jasmine Cobb, LCSW

Picture By Pixababy

Breast Cancer is a cruel disease that generally affects both men and women alike. The illness arrives unannounced and shakes up many lives in unimaginable ways. Although, you may understand if you have been personally diagnosed or maybe you can relate if you have been a firsthand witness as a caregiver.
Throughout life we encounter many experiences that can produce grief, and receiving news that there is cause for concern or even worse getting confirmation of your worst fear is flabbergasting. Then imagine thinking about how this diagnosis could affect your family tree especially if you are a first-degree relative. That is a double whammy! Even though society does
not recognize abstract losses such as major health changes and loss of security as grief issues,
they certainly are.
Generally speaking, children who form positive relationships, not perfect, with their parents or caregivers tend to assume the role of the caregiver. As children and parents age, roles tend to get reversed when a parent’s health is at- risk. Younger children, infancy to the age of 6 years old, are viewed as ‘forgotten mourners’ because they tend to process their grief
experience through play. Recognizing grief in children at this age may not be as obvious. In the same way, when adult children experience loss that is life- changing or even permanent, their grief experience seems to be a distant thought if even considered at all.
The hard truth is everyone that decides to step into the ring to fight this illness do not always make it out alive. The children, adults included, are left to contend with the rest of life that is now no longer familiar. The righteous festivities that commence to raise awareness in honor of Breast Cancer advocacy and research must begin to not only recognize the caregivers as survivors too, but it is also critical to lend them the necessary support to carry or else they
will remain forgotten mourners.
Usually, survivor is a term reserved for those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, undergone treatments and are in remission or “cured.” Recently, I discovered I seem to get a jolt of cognitive dissonance when I see Breast Cancer Awareness Survivor t- shirts. The word survivor in this sense seems to be a double entendre. To keep it a buck, I too was a
caregiver for my own mother and we experienced the highs and lows that come with this journey together for about 4 years. It almost took me out and I was not the one who was going through all the surgeries and countless treatments, but I was there every step of the way. Being a caregiver can be highly taxing mentally, physically and emotionally. It can be a traumatic experience too because vicarious trauma is real. It is so real that if you ever see me in a Breast

Cancer Survivor shirt, well hopefully by now you know why. Unfortunately, my mother’s journey ended September 7, 2020. It was truly an honor to serve in the role as her caregiver and it is also something I hope to never have to relive again.
To the surviving caregivers know that you are seen, you are on my mind and in my heart and I say thank you. We are survivors too!


Jasmine is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and is certified as a grief counselor. She has developed expertise in providing grief counseling and grief therapy for adults. She is located in Texas and is currently accepting new clients. She can be reached at


Kim Knight

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