Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It Has Begun

Pictures are from this morning's dog-walk
When the shock that I have breast cancer was still fresh, I had conversations on the phone with women who had been in my shoes before me, some with diagnoses much worse than my own. "This is the worst part," many of them told me, referring to the beginning of the process, when you aren't yet sure how bad the cancer is or what treatment plan will be prescribed, or even who will be doing the prescribing. Every one of these women I spoke to (and a few men) seemed so grounded and pragmatic, free of the vulnerable panic I was feeling.

"You will get your life back," one of them told me, which brought me up short. I so want to believe that.

It struck me that whether or not life ever feels "normal" again, there will likely come a point when I am on the receiving end of similar phone calls. I imagined it would happen next year, or at least months from now, after treatment is behind me and my hair and strength are back. The first calls would come from a friend of a friend, asking would you mind if I gave so and so your number, and I would say of course not, glad to be of help.

I did not imagine that the first call would come so soon —last night— and that it would come directly from someone close to me, or that I would hear a quaver in a voice I had not heard quaver before telling me about her own diagnosis that very day.

On one hand, yes, of course I was pleased that I could be a comfort to and information source for my friend. I was glad to notice that I am not in that raw and vulnerable place anymore myself. On the other hand I felt angry. Angry on my friend's behalf in a way I was unable to feel on my own. She should have nothing less than a long healthy life full of love and personal triumphs and special moments with her family. She does not deserve cancer.

We all know this disease has its roots in environmental toxins. We know this in our guts and in our brains whether we have the science to back it up or not. We know it's getting worse, has been getting worse down through the generations. Our grandmothers had a one in twenty chance of getting it. Nowadays, it's one in eight. I don't think the trend is over.

There's a lot of talk about finding the cure, a lot of well-meant energy spent raising money toward that end, not to mention a great deal of wealth on the line for whatever pharmaceutical company gets hold of that holy grail. And there is progress, I won't deny that.

Of course a cure would be nice. 

Frankly, I'd rather get to the root of the cause, and put what little energy I have into eliminating this stupid disease entirely.

In the meantime, I will strive to comfort and support my friend and all the others sure to come on her heels, and also to get through my own treatment and back to some new semblance of normal.

That's Millie and her best friend, Addie.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for talking about the disease from an environmental standpoint--not many people do because they don't want to change their lifestyle to make the environment better and/or they don't believe the environment (air, water, food, clothing) is a cause or particularly troubled.

Stick with science, and look for root causes, and let's try to reduce it to things we can't control, like natural aging processes. Eliminating all environmental causes would be awesome.

Grammie said...

As I head down south to celebrate my baby sister's 11th year of breast cancer survival...and walk with her in the Susan G. Komen Walk for the Cure next Saturday....I couldn't help but comment on your poignant blog posts.

I can tell you this one thing that I have learned from watching others as they go through this...You will find that you will develop a "new normal"...and, that will be okay.

You will be okay...and I plan to stay with you on this journey of yours.

Take care of yourself...

Kerry said...

Back in Oct, after you'd first been diagnosed, I had a conversation with a friend about chemo and asked would she go through it if she was diagnosed and needed it to live. She said no, it is part of the problem...(she's vegetarian, etc...lives as naturally as the world allows)...I asked her if she didn't feel like that made her some sort of a martyr and she responded emphatically, no, there are things worse than death.
I do believe our earth is the cause and don't believe we will ever clean up our environment enough to 'die naturally'. Not that individual choices don't make us feel better physically and like we are doing our part socially, but it's a drop in the ocean.

dillard said...

Just chiming in to say I'm reading and loving your blog as always. Nothing nearly as deep and helpful as what these other folks are writing, but I just want you to know we're out here!

Anonymous said...

I wish I could comfort you, Amy.

You'll make it through your winter


Orodemniades said...

Wow, I lost track of your blog a couple of years ago and am pretty horrified to hear your news via LFCA. I'll be sending positive thoughts your way.

Also, your brothers are hot.

Anonymous said...

It's so good to see this post Amy, because 'anger' is exactly what I was feeling when I spoke to you last on the phone. More fear and anger for your condition then I had for mine at that time. It's good to know that I'm not alone, and that a angry feeling in this case, is more of a fear and caring and love transitioned.
I'm hoping your stats are wrong here; scary to know! I will check into these and wonder if the percentage is higher because of a higher population or what or who is compiling these stats. (I have no doubt that enviornment and what we eat, like preservatives in our food is a factor.) It's not goog to know that we could be coming 'on our heals' towards such a diagnosis. Not a good thought or hypothosis to read at all.
Hope you are feeling better today about #2.
Yes, you can do this!!!