Thursday, October 06, 2005

Cancer - All in the Family



"Women agonize over cancer; we take as a personal threat the lump in every friend's breast." Martha Weinman Lear

If Katie Couric is wearing pink, it's National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I've had some issues with the public persona of America's favorite Perkette lately, but in her private life the lady has serious credentials when it comes to the Big C. Her late husband. Her late sister. That's the Real Deal.

It's the same in my family. We've lost too many to cancer. But others are still fighting -- and winning. For the record, one of my sisters is 9 years out from a radical mastectomy. Another sister had a mastectomy last month and is currently in the process of reconstruction. Yet another sister has triumphed over kidney cancer. My nephew is winning his battle with VHL -- but he's just 9 years old and it'll be a long fight. All are survivors. And heroes.

I'm no hero but I've survived illnesses and battles in my life -- you have too, I'm sure. This week, though, I dodged a huge bullet. Back spasm three weeks ago led to crippling pain and--when steroid injections didn't work--led to MRI led to ... terror. A "lesion which is concerning for metastasis." In laymen's terms: a tumor on my spinal cord, thought to be cancer. Bone scans, CT scans, blood tests, fear so deep nothing could possibly measure it. Today the verdict: benign.

Trust me when I tell you there are few words in any language sweeter than that one: benign. You realize you haven't been breathing. Your shoulders have been hunched defensively, your teeth clenched, your body poised for 'fight,' your mind for 'flight.' You smile, you talk, you write, you reassure your family, you get on with it. But inside, you're divorced from reality, caught in a zone of equal parts denial and panic.

You never know how you'll cope with disaster until you face it. Ironically, I've got heroic role models in my immediate family--living and gone--who've already showed me the right way. Their strength in the face of their own devastating trials helped me prepare to face mine. And now, thank god, I won't have to test my mettle against theirs. But I learned something. Prosaic but still life-enhancing. Whatever you're given, you can handle. You must handle. You will handle. It's not about choice, it's about choosing.

And it's also about luck. Karma. Divine intervention. Whatever you call it, I caught an enormous break. And as much as I can, I will fight to help others catch that break, or learn how to handle it when they don't.

Cancer sickens. Maims. Kills. It devastates families, tears apart relationships, shatters childhoods, empties bank accounts, darkens bright futures. Even when you've won, you've lost something precious. Not only an organ or a body part, but your sense of serenity. Of complacency. Of peace. Cancer is ugly and frightening.

No pink ribbon in the world can substitute for a breast lost to cancer. No yellow wristband can bring back a life. But those and other symbols represent Hope. And Promise. And Determination.

Give til it hurts. Please. For the sake of others, who could be you, or yours. And for your own peace of mind.


Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation

The Breast Cancer Site : Fund Mammograms for Free

Cancer Research Fund - VHL Family Alliance

American Cancer Society

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10 Comments:

Blogger Yaakov Kirschen said...

A friend was just told that she "probably" has MDS. she decided to ignore it for a while ? So it was up to me to start scouring the web for info, signing up for google alerts etc. MDS hits older people and doesn't seem to get much attention.
In your posting you comment on losing your your sense of serenity. Of complacency My friend's experience and my reading of a constant flow of "alerts" has done the same for me.
Yaakov Kirschen,
dry bones

1:50 AM  
Blogger Melanie Alamo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:50 AM  
Blogger BeeDubbins said...

Have you seen the Cesar PuchiBag auction that benefits the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation? The bags are little doggy carriers that look like handbags, and they are signed by celebs. Check it out at www.ebay.com/cesarforkomen ! Some of the celebs include Eva Longoria, Pierce Brosnan, Elizabeth Hasselbeck and more.

12:52 PM  
Blogger Editor said...

Wow that´s a great blog that you have there, mine is slightly differnent but it basically covers the same topics.

I have a ovarian cancer symptom site. It pretty much covers Cancer related stuff.

Check it out, you won´t regret it... Cheers.. Roger From Http://www.havecancer.com

12:59 AM  
Blogger Rod said...

Fantastic blog you've got here Sally Swift, I was looking for ovarian cancer related information and found your site. I have a ovarian cancer site. It covers everything about ovarian cancer concerns, warning signs, ovarian cancer treatment and breast cancer awareness. You'll find it very informative. Stop by and check it out when you can. Enjoy!

2:43 AM  
Blogger Rod said...

Fantastic blog you've got here Sally Swift, I was looking for breast cancer related information and found your site. I have a breast cancer site. It covers everything about ovarian cancer concerns, warning signs, ovarian cancer treatment and breast cancer awareness. You'll find it very informative. Stop by and check it out when you can. Enjoy!

10:40 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Fantastic blog you've got here Sally Swift, I was looking for breast cancer statistics related information and found your site. I have a breast cancer statistics site. It covers everything about ovarian cancer concerns, warning signs, ovarian cancer treatment and breast cancer awareness. You'll find it very informative. Stop by and check it out when you can. Enjoy!

12:12 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Fantastic blog you've got here Sally Swift, I was looking for breast cancer related information and found your site. I have a breast cancer site. It covers everything about ovarian cancer concerns, warning signs, ovarian cancer treatment and breast cancer awareness. You'll find it very informative. Stop by and check it out when you can. Enjoy!
If you have a site similar to mine and would like to exchange links, please contact me through my website.

4:05 AM  
Blogger Rod said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:38 AM  
Blogger earnest said...

» International Trial Of Novel Breast Cancer Drug
14/12/06 07:03 from Breast cancer blog from medicineworld.org
-------------------------------------------------------------
A clinical trial of a new targeted breast cancer drug, led by
physicians at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Cancer
Center, has begun enrolling patients. The TEACH (Tykerb
Evaluation After CHemotherapy) trial will investigate ...


For useful content on breast cancer information, breast cancer rate statistics and breast cancer survival rates: check
the url is http://breast-cancer1.com

3:14 AM  

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