Sunday, October 11, 2009

October Thoughts

My first encounter with breast cancer was on September 30 of 2000. For the first time, I understood the phrase "paralyzed with fear". I was home alone and received a phone call from my doctor informing me that I had a tumor in my breast. I remember sitting at the table for a very long time after that call just staring into space. I didn't know how to feel or how to respond. I didn't know how to tell my family. I started with my mother who immediately expressed the thought that if I had been more careful about my weight, I would not have received that type of phone call. From there I moved to my husband (should have started there) whose obvious fear served to both make me feel very loved and to scare the bejeebers out of me. We then decided to only tell my boys as much as they needed to know at the time.

I knew that my grandmother had died of stomach cancer and had always heard that the disease sometimes skipped a generation. I had convinced myself, however, that I and the other members of my family would live forever. Being faced with a potentially fatal disease can be a rude awakening. It is a defining moment in one's life to realize that your time on earth is finite and completely unpredictable.

The tumor turned out to be benign and life went on . I found myself to be a little more serious, a little more cautious, and sadly a little more grown up. Seven years later, my mother was diagnosed with second hand smoke lung cancer. Once more the ugly, vile word had entered my life. Mom fought bravely and died six months later. Once more I moved on feeling even more vulnerable and a lot more grown up. Nothing like the loss of a parent to force you to face your own mortality.

Fast forward to 2009. This time, I received a voice mail message, "doctor would like you to see a surgeon". Biopsies, surgery, bi-annual exams, and now a five year regimen of cancer fighting medication. "Tumor benign but precancerous cells present", I've dodged a bullet again, but have reached a point of feeling fear every time I hear the dreaded "c" word on the radio or see it in print. Suddenly people all around me are being tested, diagnosed, operated on. It's become unavoidable.

I realize, that with the exception of my mother's fate, my story is a (pardon the pun) benign one. I can't imagine the fear factor when the diagnosis is malignant. I conduct a fund raiser in my building every year to support research. I buy pink ribbons at the grocery store and purchase all of the pink ribbon products I can find. I urge everyone to do what they can during October and throughout the year. We have to find a way to beat this hideous disease. Join me in praying for breast cancer victims and survivors everywhere. Thank you.....

The above pages are from a journal entry I produced in 2000 while waiting for the results of my first tumor...


donna said...

I have a similar story. So many of us do. Thank you for sharing. It needs to be talked about.

Veronica said...

God it is like we live the same live parallel lives. SAME exact story here

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