Breast Cancer {Awareness and Sadness}

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October 19, 2011 by Gina

It’s October…which means many things, but it is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Pink is everywhere you look – Yoplait lids, curling irons at Ulta, the NFL.  There was even an article in Sunday’s Minneapolis Star Tribune about how pink is so common in October now that it might be losing it’s effect (“Pink Blitz for Cancer Stirs Debate“).  My husband, Brian, and I had a whole discussion on Sunday night about how it’s great to raise awareness, but is it overdone?  What about other diseases?

Like so many others, I’ve been touched by breast cancer in my family.  Both my grandmothers have had breast cancer and they are both in their 90s and living active, independent lives.  I’ve had friends’ mothers with breast cancer and seen a close friend of Brian’s from high school die from the disease.

It’s heart wrenching.  So, imagine my surprise when I opened up my email yesterday morning to read that one of my best friends has been diagnosed with breast cancer.  I was devastated – sad, angry, concerned, full of love – all of those emotions in the time it took to read “I have breast cancer”.  That’s all I knew at the time so when I got her call later in the day and Finn was in the middle of a meltdown, I couldn’t take the phone call.  I called Sue back as soon as I could and we talked for almost an hour.

Despite the topic of our conversation, it was so great talking to Sue on the phone.  We’re both busy  moms and she works full time at the Pentagon so we rarely talk live.  We “talk” over real letters to each other sent through the conventional mail system.  We rarely even email each other.  Thankfully, Sue has the kind of breast cancer you want if you’re going to get breast cancer – the kind that doesn’t metastasize.  But it still is tough – you don’t want to hear “you have breast cancer” or any cancer or major illness.  As expected, Sue is being pulled in a million directions – lumpectomy, radiation and reconstructive surgery or mastectomy and major reconstructive surgery?  Her calendar is booked with medical appointments and she is still juggling work and family life.

I felt so helpless today.  Sue is going through such a difficult time and the next few months will continue to be hard.  I’m thousands of miles away so the only thing I can do is listen, cry, laugh and be there for a wonderful woman and friend.  I want to get on a plane and give Sue a big hug and go to her appointments with her.  I want to hold her hand, clean her house for her, get her boys up for school and make a meal.  More than anything, I want her to be healthy and happy.

I think that’s what we all want for our loved ones.  I love you Sue!

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