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?