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Carry On: The word, "cancer"

Carry On: rocking the bald head

Senior Master Sgt. Amber Robbins, 5th Force Support Squadron superintendent, stands with her family at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, Jan. 23, 2019. Robbins was recently selected to promote to chief master sergeant after facing a year-long battle with breast cancer. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alyssa M. Akers)

Carry On: rocking the bald head

Senior Master Sgt. Amber Robbins, 5th Force Support Squadron superintendent, discovers she was selected to promote to chief master sergeant at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, Dec. 4, 2018. Robbins was one of four people at Minot AFB to be selected for promotion into the top one percent of the Air Force enlisted force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alyssa M. Akers)


I never paid much attention to the lady who lived behind me. I was outside almost every day last summer while I soaked up every bit of my maternity leave with my new baby when I saw her.

She seemed to have the same love for sunshine as I did. I never waved or said anything, but I noticed her, I noticed she didn’t have any hair, and for a split second the word “cancer” crossed my mind.

The moment passed, I moved on and thought about something else, but an idea still lingered. I mean, how could I live next door to someone for more than a year and know nothing about them? 

I live directly behind Senior Master Sgt. Amber Robbins, and I had no idea that last year she fought for her life against breast cancer. We are both mothers who are active-duty, but I had no idea what she was going through.

My job allows me to cross paths with so many different people; I talk to them, I listen to their stories and in return they always make an impact on my life. This time was no different. I interviewed my neighbor. The one I noticed outside, during the summer, soaking up the sunshine just like I did. I live for sunshine, it makes me happy and that same sunshine was literally giving her life.

“We share so many experiences, different experiences in the Air Force you never really know what someone’s going through, until you open up and ask,” said Robbins. “We are not alone, no one is alone, just ask.”

Despite sharing backyards, I didn't really know what she was going through. It seemed almost strategic, the way she was placed in my life. I don’t believe in coincidences, I think every experience has the ability to leave an impression on you. I listened to her story, so many emotions and so many instances that reminded me how precious life is and how simply it can be taken for granted.

I didn’t think much about the woman who lived behind me, even when the word “cancer” crossed my mind. But now I will never forget her.

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