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March 31, 2009



I was having dinner with some friends and acquaintances (friends of those friends), and one of the acquaintances was SHOCKED AND APPALLED when I mentioned that I'd probably get tested for the BRCA gene since EVERYONE IN MY FAMILY GETS CANCER, and that if I had it, as soon as I got around to having babies and breastfeeding them and weaning them, I'd lop my girls off and get some fake, cancer-free tatas put in. What? I'm supposed to wait until I ACTUALLY get cancer, and hope it gets diagnosed before it spreads to my lymph nodes and from there to my other, vitaler parts like my LUNGS!?!?! I'm angry now just re-living that experience.


Well, my best friend died from Inflammatory Breast Cancer over two years ago and the 14 months that we worked through it together were some of the most heart-rending times of my life. I cried so hard at her memorial service I thought I was going to suffocate. Everything inside of me closed up. Then another friend and I went out and celebrated by getting me a memorial tattoo for Shauna, who knew it was happening but didn't live long enough to see the end result.

Another really good friend was recently diagnosed with squamous cell cancer (tongue) and has had surgery to remove the cells on his tongue and the lymph nodes in his neck. Last week he went in for more cell removal for more biopsies. When I heard the news I almost collapsed from the fear of losing another friend to this horrible disease.

And let me tell you one thing, if I were from the gene pool that had BRCA, I would lop everything off and out as soon as I could. So raych I empathize with your anger.


Yup - here come the cancer stories...

A good friend was diagnosed with cervical cancer 3 years ago. She had to have a whole bunch of non-vital organs removed including her colon, her bladder and her VAGINA.

Then the cancer came back and she had to have more non-vital organs removed including her thyroid and part of her liver.

Then the cancer came back a third (and hopefully last) time and, I don't know what else was removed (there wasn't much else to take!), but she has been cancer free for almost a year.

Other than the poop and pee bags, the fact that she is full of some kind of bio foam (apparently, they spray the foam inside the body to keep the remaining organs from sliding around) and G-d only knows what other scars, holes and various other side effects from all the surgeries she's had, her quality of life is good. She has a great attitude, that's for sure.

Me? Depending on the type of cancer, I would likely retire to the Ritz in Paris for my remaining days, take visitors (and morphine) and empty the mini bar on a daily basis until the end finally came. Maybe I'd be inspired and write the next Great American Novel in my spare time.

No name this time

Here's what my mom did: Pretend like nothing was wrong to her five kids. Struggle to keep cancer at bay for four years and when hope was lost, push to stay alive long enough to see my baby. She did, and she died when he was six weeks old. I recently got copies of her medical records for my siblings and me in case we ever get sick, and every doctor's visit note says the same thing: that she did not seem to understand the severity of her condition. What they didn't understand was that she got it, all right. She just refused to roll over and die, no pun intended.



My mom died 7 years ago from pancreatic cancer. Never thought about it before, had no idea what i'd do if someone i knew had cancer, or how i'd handle it.

What i did do: went on outward bound (pre-planned for my 40th birthday), wrote in my journal and cried and cried; came home and quit my social work internship; dropped out of grad school, dropped out of my family, and basically moved back home (norwood) with one of my brothers to take care of my mom until she died that December.

In a very odd way, knowing someone who has cancer is like having your first child...you can't imagine how you'll do it, and then it happens, you go on auto-pilot, and you rise to the occasion. It was hard, but it had its own grace too. I didn't think I could ever move beyond it...but I did.


Hoo-boy, I hear this. I've got a friend who's battling kidney cancer (metastasized, alas), and another who just died of esophogeal cancer, and it all just sucks. And I think I have problems.


It is so scary - but there are lots of scary things - I read an article a while ago that when asked how they would choose to die doctors overwhelmingly said from cancer (well-controlled pain meds, naturally) because then they could say good bye to family and perhaps take a few special vacations before dying.

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