In 2003, I took a hiatus from school to come back home and help care for my mother who was facing the hardest battle of her life, breast cancer.

Every Tuesday, I would take the trip with her to chemotherapy, when we would encounter women of all ages, social, economic and cultural backgrounds, religions, etc. You see, breast cancer did not discriminate.

In month after month of chemo visits, I met so many women who had so feared the unknown that they had delayed going to the doctor, only to find out that what they feared had come to past. Now, they were relying on their faith in God to comfort them in their time of waiting for a healing and a miracle to come forth.

My mother was one of those women who took too long to get her screening, only to find out that the cancer had spread rapidly throughout her body in a span of two years. In 2004, she took her final breath.

October is Breast Cancer Month, a time to remember that breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, according to the American Cancer Society. As I look around in our churches, I see the seats where many of our sisters, mothers, grandmothers, aunts and friends once sat have become empty.

So many women have lost their battle with cancer due to years of prolonging their doctor visits and ignoring signs that should have served as wakeup calls.

Don’t get me wrong. I am a woman of faith and I believe God is our help in our time of trouble. He is also a healer and provider but He requires us to take care of this temple, our body, that He has given us.

This temple is not to be taken for granted: “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-21)

As much as we blame the devil, our actions and decisions do play out in our lives. In all actuality, the decision to turn down that plate of collard greens with fried chicken, allow your body to rest from hours spent being at church, exercise, undergo a mammogram or attend your annual health screenings has nothing to do with the devil but is a choice you make for yourself.

Even devoting some time to cooking a healthy meal or spending an hour at the gym is a decision only you can make that will help you out in the end.

Church, our commitment to God, church duties, family, children and career should never be an excuse for why we neglect our bodies. Ultimately, God wants us to take care of our temples.

Sandra J. Charite is a Miramar resident and former journalist.