When Mert Brockington’s daughter, Marlene Cooper, announced she was carrying her first child in 2013, she was ecstatic. The joy of being a grandmother was something she looked forward to. She traveled to Georgia to wait for the delivery of the baby. During her pregnancy, Cooper discovered a lump in her breast but two separate tests came back negative. Cooper had a baby girl in May 2013 and in November 2013 the test came back positive. The diagnosis would lead to a double mastectomy. Then more bad news, some of the cancer cells migrated and Cooper had to undergo chemo.
The treatments would clearly take its toll on her daughter who was 37, and who’s husband was stationed in Iraq, so she shuttered her home in the Sandhill Community of Nesmith and moved to Atlanta. “She was worried about me taking care of her and the baby but I told her not to worry about it because God had me there for a reason,” she said. She stayed for six years.
In September, Brockington returned home but something told her she had more work to do. As she was sitting on a bus with tears running down her face when she came up with the idea of hosting a breast cancer awareness walk. The event was held in her hometown of Nesmith. A former classmate designed and printed the shirts as a gift and a jubilant crowd joined in the walk. “I love my community. So many people stepped up to the plate. I just couldn’t believe it,” she said. “As long as I have my health and strength I will continue to do this every year.”
Cooper couldn’t attend the walk as she was pulling a shift as an RN but she knew her mom would do a great job. “She’s always been a hard worker. She can’t sit still to save her life,” said Cooper during a telephone interview. “She’ll help anybody in anyway she can. She’s is a sweet and giving person and I’m proud of her for starting the walk. I just wish I could have been there.”
Brockington has bigger plans. Besides hosting the annul community walk, she wants to take the local children on a trip. “Some of the kids have never been out of Nesmith,” she said as she walked with the crowd to the Nesmith Community Park to enjoy refreshments. “I just want to take them on a trip. Wherever my heart desires for them, I want to do a road trip. Even just to sightsee, maybe to Columbia.”
According to breastcancer.org, about 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. About 2,670 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men in 2019. A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 883.