What are the odds?

1 in 8 women will get breast cancer.

I’ve been sitting here at my desk, stunned, for approximately the last day and a half, wondering how to write about this, yet knowing that I must. Although my life has remained relatively untouched by breast cancer, I’ve now been hit hard. In a big way. And although I swore when I started this blog not to write about anyone except myself and my children, I need to break that rule for a moment.

My mom-in-law has cancer. Breast cancer. Infiltrating ductile carcinoma, which is the most common and the most curable of the breast cancers. I didn’t even know there were different kinds. I didn’t know that the survival rate is now extremely high if the cancer can be removed surgically and the patient has radiation treatments. I didn’t know how common pervasive cancer is now.

I did know how devastating it can be to daughters and sisters and friends. I have tried to support my friends whose mothers have fought breast cancer. I have tried to be there for them and support them, but I really didn’t know what it was like.

Now I know. My mom-in-law has a diagnosis. She has had a lumpectomy. She will have further tests and further surgery next week. Then radiation. 5 courses. I think that’s standard, but I really don’t know. I call her every other day or so with encouraging words, cute stories about the boys, sighs over the baby’s colic, and other things to help her stay focused on the happy things in her life. I traveled out there last week with my young family while she was awaiting the biopsy results, to keep her from obsessing over the possibilities. I am snapping pictures, creating albums, sending her collections — anything that I can do to help keep her mind off it.

But my mind is on it. My mind is obsessing over it. My heart is breaking. For this woman, this good woman, this pretty-much-perfect mother-in-law, to have developed cancer is not right.

But is it ever right?

No. Of course not. And we must work through it, and support our mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends as they work through it. And we will. We will cheer my mom-in-law on. We will send her cards with Widget’s funny sayings and pictures of Little Bear’s smiles. We will call on days that aren’t even Sunday, and visit when there’s not a holiday in sight. We will wear pink ribbons. We will Race for the Cure. We will all survive this, and we will be stronger.

And we will do our BSEs and get annual mammograms when we turn 40. We will read and learn and grow and educate ourselves about the disease. Because life goes on, and we owe it to our children to take care of ourselves.

In the meantime, though, I can’t help but consider the odds. There are 8 women in my playgroup. 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer.

Who will be the one?

12 Responses to What are the odds?

  1. spacemom says:


    I am sorry that your family has been hit by this hard news. Have faith that she will, with her whole family’s support, fight the fight.

    Thinking of you


  2. So sorry about your mom-in-law. That must be hard for her, and for all of you too. At least she has lots of family support. I think that is the most important thing.

  3. NYfriend says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about your MIL. I know you will be a great supporter for her and she will treasure every gesture, photo, thought and hug you give her.

    Please reconsider yearly mammograms, there are safer alternatives to radiating your breasts on a regular basis.
    Search on thermographic breast scan (or screening). I’ll send you a link off line as it seems that when I put websites in my comments they don’t make it onto your blog.

    You might find some helpful information to help your MIL recover more quickly from her treatments in Susun Weed’s book “Breast Cancer? Breast Health! The Wise Woman Way.” This is also a great book for ways to improve your odds in the first place. I have a copy, if you have something in specific you’d like looked up please let me know.

    Even bigger hugs tonight to you WhyMommy.

  4. Thank you for putting a spotlight on this. And I’m sorry to hear about your MIL. You sound like a wonderful DIL, doing all the right things for her to keep her hopeful and to help her know that she is loved.

    1 in 8. Indeed.

  5. whymommy says:

    Thanks. But I left the story unfinished. Unsure over whether to post something so personal, I hesitated. I shouldn’t have. I needed to say it.

    All advice, comments, sites, whatever, welcome today. I’m a bit of a wreck.

  6. […] Posts Today An Unexpected SolutionThomas Recall!What are the odds?I won!Starting […]

  7. […] Posts Today Thomas Recall!Not good.I am scared.What are the odds?An Unexpected […]

  8. […] presents What are the odds? posted at Toddler […]

  9. Lill says:

    My mother lived to be 87 after beating breast cancer at 57. Her cause of death had nothing to do with breast cancer. Take heart and know that your MIL has a very good chance of beating this thing and watching your kids grow up. She’s very lucky to have a daughter in law like you.

    Shine On,

  10. […] license, where I see it every day, but I do.  It’s a bittersweet memory for me, the waiting, when we knew something was wrong but hoped against hope that it would be just an infection.  In […]

  11. […] I do know is I’m even luckier than I thought.  In June, I learned that 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer.  Approximately 5% of those are inflammatory breast cancer.  Another 1% of those are […]

  12. […] not.  I still want it to be June 15 all over […]

%d bloggers like this: