Every year in my city of Peoria, Ill., there is a “Race for the Cure.” Women race for a cure for breast cancer. Thousands of women participate. Some have breast cancer, some are breast cancer survivors and some have a person close to them with the dread disease. I don’t know that the Jerry Lewis Telethon or the St. Jude’s Run carries more passion than this run.
While people who have breast cancer want support, you quickly find out breast cancer is a very personal disease. Testimony to that is the fact that when husbands wanted to run in the “Race for the Cure” they were asked not to by the women. They feel it is their problem and their fight.
I didn’t understand that until my wife got a letter in the mail that her mammogram was abnormal. I am a writer yet I cannot explain in words the terror that came with that letter. From the time we got it until she could have a better test, five days elapsed. I couldn’t remember being more scared. I kept asking my wife how she was doing and finally she yelled at me “Stop trying to make yourself feel better!” She was right. And it was then I understood why the runners didn’t’ want their husbands to run.
Luckily my wife was alright. However every year when she gets a mammogram we worry just a little bit more.
I know two people who died from breast cancer that were part of my life. One was my wife’s Aunt. The diagnosis was made and she died in a very few months. She was in her mid-forties and had not gotten regular mammograms.
Another was a dear friend who was an insurance client and a teacher who was renowned in our area. Again, as my wife’s aunt she died young. The difference was she battled it for a number of years and she left children. My wife’s aunt was a principal and not married.
I have found out that breast cancer is a foe to unmarried women.
I am a “Health and Wellness” writer. I use the Cancer Association’s site to study cancer and its effects. The information on the illness and the treatments such as chemotherapy total thousands of articles. Cancer is that intricate even in published materials.
Of the two people who died one, my wife’s aunt, did not get chemotherapy. The teacher did.
When people get chemotherapy it is dangerous. It can kill a patient and it has a dramatic physical effect on them such as hair loss.
The teacher had a remission but then it came back.
In writing an article about breast cancer I don’t think it is important to know much about the people. The Race for the Cure was started in memory of Susan G. Komen who was a local celebrity of sorts. Her sister wrote a moving book about her relationship with her during the illness.
As I said I don’t think that knowing who these women were is important in understanding breast cancer.
Unlike other cancers, breast cancer strikes at the very heart of a woman’s being. A woman’s breast is a part of who she is. Often it must be removed. There is always a fear of recurrence.
Breast cancer is the leading type of cancer that kills women and cancer is the second leading cause of death in women. In 2010 there will be an estimated 207,090 new breast cancer cases.
In the very short time I was faced with the possibility my wife had breast cancer, I could not go to work or do much of anything else for that matter. Because of that experience I am all that much more amazed at the bravery exhibited of the women I knew who died.
I have linked to the American Cancer Society to a complete booklet about breast cancer. Whether you are male or female; take the time to read it.
I cannot explain the sadness of death. However I can show you. I have linked to a show by Annenberg Media that follows three people as they die. This is what I saw with the people I cared about.