For years I thought that breast cancer had spared our family. When asked if anyone in my family had been affected by the disease I replied, “No, thank goodness”.  But I have learned through my heritage quest that like so many families across the United States and the world, my branch of the Reyst family has its own history of breast cancer.

Just recently I learned that 2 first cousins are breast cancer survivors (one would later die from another form of cancer).  However, these 2 brave women are not the only victims of this disease in our family lineage.  I discovered that our great-aunt, Ella Reyst, was also a victim of breast cancer, and died of it at the age of 61 in 1953.  Ella married when she was about 40 years old, and shortly after moved away from her family in Detroit, Michigan to California with her new husband.  For Ella this most have been a very lonely and scary time, as she struggled with ill-health from this deadly disease without the close support of her family. According to her death certificate, the cancer metastasized, eventually causing her death. Back in 1953, there were not many options for Ella to beat this disease, and most of them would have been economically unfeasible. 

Over the years we have come a long way in treating breast cancer and making strives toward a cure some day.  These strives have a least helped my one cousin to survive, albeit not without her own struggles.  So as the month of October nears it end, and so does the national breast cancer awareness campaign for this year, remember to help in some way, even how small.

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