Sunday, July 17, 2011

I am the lucky one

I've always felt that one day I will win the lottery. It is my destiny. I lead an enchanted life. Always have. When I'd go to the carnivals and play the roulette games, I'd clean up on prizes. Once I went to see a college basketball game and bought a raffle ticket and won a $500 scholarship for college. Good things happen to me and bad things mostly bounce off of me. One time I was riding my bike home when I noticed a car up ahead barreling down a side street towards the road I was on. I had the right of way but decided to stop because I had a bad feeling. The car slammed on its brakes and came to a stop 2 lanes into the oncoming traffic. I have been hit twice on my bike by cars but both times it was just a tap and not enough to hurt me.

One year I almost died 3 times in a matter of months. I say almost because if things happened slightly different, I might not be here. The 1st was as I was just starting to turn left into a parking spot in a narrow alley when a car blew by me out of nowhere, passing me on my left. Saved from impact and sure death by a mere split second. The second time was when I was riding my bike to work and flew over my handlebars landing head first. Thanks be to something it was a rare day in which I was wearing a helmet. I may not have died but I'm sure it would have at least fucked up my weekend! (I have worn a helmet ever since). And the third was the bank robbery. Woman on my left killed, man on my right shot. I walked away with a bandaid.

Just yesterday I avoided a potential accident on my way to work bright and early in the morning. A cop car passed me with their lights flashing and then started swerving all over the highway. No one was in front of me and I was afraid he was trying to pull me over in some strange manner but turns out that he/she was just trying to stop traffic. Up ahead, in the lane that I had been speeding in was a car that had spun out and was blocking one and a half lanes. It was dark and the highway was curvy. The cop did succeed in stopping traffic and we all passed the accident safely. Luck runs through my veins.

And of course when it comes to cancer and this brca mutation, I am one of the lucky ones. My cancer was found so early that I always clarify to people, when they find out, that it was not "serious." Of course it was serious to me and my family and resulted in doing some things that I didn't want to but to the general public it is not the cancer that one thinks of. I did not lose my hair or throw up from chemo (just pain meds and anesthesia). I was never sickly. It hasn't spread. No one told me I was going to die. I didn't have radiation. I didn't even sacrifice any lymph nodes. I had just a touch of cancer in each boob. Just enough that I don't have to do much explaining when people find out about my double mastectomy. I just say I had cancer. And if they ask why I got rid of both boobs I just explain that I had it in both breasts. They accept that answer without any questions. My wondertwin and others like her don't have it so easy. They don't always know how to explain their surgeries. They even get some people treating them rudely because they don't understand why someone would cut off their boobs if they didn't even have cancer. Some cancer survivors or their families treat them harshly because they think they are trying to steal some of their sympathy, I guess? Who is to say whose pain or suffering is worse than another's anyway?! I have to thank my sis-in-law who always supported me during my diagnosis and surgeries despite the fact that her cancer was much worse than mine. Her "lumpectomy" ended up taking most of her breast and her cancer was stage 3 which led to radiation and some awful chemo. She never denied me my pain and anguish.

My poor sis just did a breast cancer walk and when asked at the registration if she was a survivor, she replied that she was a previvor. They looked at her like she was some kind of idiot and she walked away feeling very bad and alone in a sea of pink. But then she remembered that her friends, who raised $20,000 for the cause, were there because of her and for her. My sis and others like her have my utmost admiration. She may not get a pink t-shirt at the walks but I got her a much better shirt that I found at target. We all make tough choices in life. They are choices we have to live with and no one needs to judge us for them. Here is an article that some of you may find inspiring or help you justify your  surgery decisions to others. And hugs to all of you going through something difficult.


  1. I wanted to get your input about what you thought about the opinion that surfaced in this article about cancer screenings need to be personalized.
    How has the conversation been between you and wondertwin? I am having this conversation with my sisters and would love others input. Thank you for being so open and brave!

  2. DannJ,
    I certainly do think that screenings should be personalized for cancer and other diseases. In my family, diseases have repeated themselves over and over. But my sisters and I have found that when you fill out all the family history at the doctors office, it can often be overlooked. We can't assume that just because a doctor doesn't mention the list that we fill out that things are hunky dory. They are often overworked and short on time. To get the best care for ourselves we need to do some research and also ask the doctors "what else do I need to do to stay healthy?" That is how I ended up getting my colonoscopy ten years early and saving my butt. Unfortunately, I didn't put two and two together in time to avoid breast cancer but it didn't kill me.

  3. Thanks for the article, sissie! Gave it to a friend who has DCIS and about to have mastectomy even though several docs say just get a lumpectomy. (She has history of radiation to chest wall.) Also going to give to BS who was wonderful but said I only needed 2 weeks off from work. Wore my "Lucky Lass" Life Is Good hat on the walk because I am lucky to be able to beat cancer before it even meets me. Love you. wt