The photo of Jason holding a picture of his beloved Mother caught my attention more than any shoe pic in recent weeks. Reading the adjoining text about his love of sneakers helping him support his love for his Mother tugged at my heartstrings. For one guy to bear his soul with such feeling pushed me to get in contact with him to ask if he’d like to speak more about his experience. We are honored that Jason accepted to put down some words and allowed us to share such a meaningful story.
WORDS and IMAGE by Jason Azanza
I was always into sneakers growing up, starting from a collection of Vans and Chuck Taylor’s during elementary school to Jordan’s and Nikes in high school. Everyone who knew me knew I loved my sneakers, especially my Mom.
Throughout my love for sneakers within the past few years it was one shoe that really caught my eye. I knew it would be one of my grails. It was the KD VI “Aunt Pearl.” I loved the message it carried, knowing my mom was diagnosed and defeated breast cancer in 2005, I knew I had to attain this shoe in my collection. The Aunt Pearl series represents Kevin Durant’s Aunt who passed away from lung cancer, it is also tied in with the Kay Yow Foundation that was started by Sandra Kay Yow, the coach of NC state wolfpack women’s basketball team. Sandra was diagnosed with breast cancer and later passed away after her third battle with the disease.
My Mom always loved the different varieties of sneakers that I had, she even had a good collection of footwear herself, from sneakers to heels. She was a fashionista. In 2005 my Mom was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer, after a long hard battle and some chemotherapy she was able to defeat the disease. She was later diagnosed with uterine cancer at the end of 2012. After a long 2013 year of doctors delaying treatments, tests, and surgery, she was once again cancer free by the beginning of 2014. Unfortunately it didn’t stop there. April 2014 my Mom had lumps growing in her neck and very miniscule lumps growing around her stomach area. This was later determined as metastatic breast and uterine cancer. January 2015 my Mom was told she had around 6 months left to live. The cancer around her stomach started to spread in an uncontrollable rate and on April 28, 2015 she passed away.
I didn’t know how to cope with the death, it was extremely hard on my Dad and me. I was just in constant need of happiness and that’s when I started to look at my sneakers again. I decided to make it a mission to hunt down my grails and also complete the full Aunt Pearl set. I did this in memory of my mom, and to represent the love I have for both my Mom and my sneakers. The fact that my Mom loved the collection and passion towards sneakers, I did it for her. With help from my good friend Jaycee and after looking for a long time, I was able to attain the full set of Aunt Pearls that have been released and also a pair of Foamposites.
The KD VI is definitely my favorite from the set. The shoe has roses as the main design; this to me represents my Mom’s favorite flower, which is the rose. This was also the hardest pair to come across in my size. Completing the set absolutely feels like an accomplishment but as much happiness that it gives me, it doesn’t bring my mom back nor does it help me move on from what had happened. What it did was it made me realize that there is no getting over a situation like this, and I would never wish what my Dad and I went through to happen to anyone else but unfortunately it happens everyday.
This motivated me to help other families avoid what my family went through. I am doing this by giving support to organizations that raise funds towards the cause. There are many organizations that accept donations and all proceeds go towards cancer research for a cure, patient support, and many more ways to help for the cause.
If anyone would like to help me support the cause and represent the organization which shirt that I’m wearing, please visit http://www.standup2cancer.org
I miss you, not one day passes by that Dad and I don’t think and pray about you. Things won’t ever be the same without you here, there’s no one I could say goodnight I love you followed by a big hug every night anymore. Momma I promise I’ll make it out in the big world. I’m gonna do it for you and Dad no matter how hard it gets. I’m gonna continue to pray for you each and everyday. I love you to the moon and back.
‘til I see you again
-your baby, Jason