February 13, 2008

Cancer SUCKS

Life is at times a shipwreck, but during these times, we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats. ~Voltaire

"cancer sucks" has played out as a theme on this blog before.

This past spring, it was my dad who lost his battle with colon cancer. In the Fall of ’06, it was Kate’s father-like figure Gord, who succumbed to a brief but valiant fight against a lymphoma. In the spring of ’06, it was my Granddad. Before that, it was Kate’s Grandmother. And that's just the past few years. I could go back further, or talk about other people I know dealing with the disease at the moment, if you like, but I think you get the picture.

In any case, it seems it’s now my moms' turn. Breast Cancer. British Columbia’s current catch phrase is ‘BC… the Best Place on Earth.’ Frankly, this is one BC we’d all like to stay the hell away from.

There is the particular sense about the situation that my mother is being kicked while she’s down; still mourning the loss of her husband, she’s now got to go through this garbage. One can’t help but look heavenward and say—either quietly to one’s self or out loud with fists shaking—ArE yOu SeRIouS?!

Luckily, mom has always taught us kids that though it may feel like it at times, God will never give us more than we can handle.

Listening to and watching mom in the past few weeks, I know she feels this within herself. She is approaching the situation with good humour and strength, determined that this will not bring her down. After all, she’s got a cruise boat to get on in June, and she’s got another grandkid arriving sometime in July, and she’ll be darned if she’s missing either.

And so, on February 19th, she’s going under the knife. She’s got the option of a lumpectomy, but she’s embraced the thought of a mastectomy instead.No sense giving the BC an increased chance to come back, and this way she wont need radiation. After surgery, she’ll have to wait for pathology results to see if any further chemo will be required. Hopefully doing away with the affected breast will take care of the problem, but if not…well, that’s a bridge that will be crossed if need be, but for now, we look to next week with optimism.

Really mom, this is only partly about letting others know so we can increase the prayer network for you. The main point is simply to say that in the face of all that you’ve faced in the past year, I am astounded at your continuing strength, and I am in awe of your ability to smile. You are simultaneously willing to play with the cards being dealt and conversely unwilling to put up with the crap the universe seems to be slinging in your direction. Dad is no doubt proud, as are we all, family and friends alike. You are an inspiration to us, and I only hope we can return the favour as you battle this cancer. Just keep singing in that lifeboat. We love you.

Some facts on breast cancer in Canada:

• One in nine women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime, assuming she lives to age 80

• Every year approximately 18,000 Canadian women develop breast cancer (over 2,000/year in B.C.)

• The BC Cancer Agency and the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation offer plenty of information and resources if you’re interested in learning more about breast cancer, or would like to donate to research.