breast cancer awareness

My Inheritance

When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, I became slightly obsessed with my dead grandmother.  Or, more accurately, I became obsessed with all of the things that I – the youngest of four siblings – inherited from my dead grandmother who I had never met.

Why did I inherit the fine china set that I’m certain she never ate a meal on?  The fine china that has stayed neatly packed in my attic since the day we moved in.  How on earth, with two older sisters, did I inherit her diamond engagement ring and her gold wedding band?  And the biggest question of all:  why did I inherit the breast cancer that killed her?

I spent a lot of time wondering if I’d been cursed or somehow ominously marked when I brought her things into my home.  I wondered if I should throw them out, let each beautiful dish shatter into tiny pieces or ceremoniously burn every serving tray, platter, tea cup, gold band and diamond ring that she ever touched.  I wondered if all of these things had somehow gotten lost or misplaced when she died or when my grandfather moved;  if they had mysteriously disappeared 50 years ago, never to be touched by me or my siblings, would I still be feeling this hideous lump?

I wondered.  A lot.

Before my own treatment started, I dug out my grandmother’s wedding band.  I needed to touch it and imagine how it must have looked on her hand.  I wondered if, like me, she tugged on it or spun it when she was nervous or when they told her she had breast cancer.  I wondered if she wore it during the treatments that failed her so miserably.  I wondered if she had it on when she died.

I put it on my own finger to see how it felt.

That very same day, a dear friend sent me a necklace – the angel of strength.  I put my new necklace on and began spinning that old ring and I cried.  I cried because I suddenly realized how miserable it must have been to be diagnosed with breast cancer in 1960.  I suddenly understood that the heart attack that killed her was a direct result of the treatment that she was hoping would save her.  I suddenly recognized why my own diagnosis of breast cancer came with regular visits to the cardiologist.  I suddenly realized that my dead grandmother was a part of my own, personal clinical trial.

And I suddenly realized that all of those things she left behind, all of those things that found their way to me, were with me for a reason:  a reminder that I had my very own angel of strength always hovering nearby.

Jackpot Winnings and Breast Cancer

breast cancer ribbonI fell for it.  I never fall for these things, but I fell for this one.

Yesterday, a friend posted something on Facebook about using a pair of socks as an alternative to toilet paper and I just couldn’t resist.  I had to make a comment.  And then 30 seconds later, I received the dreaded chain email.

Turns out, the ridiculous status update was all a trap.  Once I commented on it, I was required to choose one of 12 predetermined status updates to share on my own wall in an attempt to trap even more unsuspecting victims.  Normally, I would click delete and move on but this one came with guilt.  This silly online game was, somehow, supposed to help spread awareness for breast cancer.  Now it seemed impossible not to play along.

I chose what I thought was the least ridiculous status update and posted ‘Just won $7,000 on a scratchy.’  And the madness began.

My sister saw it and was so excited by the news that she called my parents to tell them about it.  My parents then called me.  “But I don’t understand,” my mother kept repeating, “So you really didn’t win $7,000?”

More than 25 people commented on it and another 20+ simply liked it.  All of these people were so genuinely happy for me and my winnings …. and then I responded with the dreaded chain letter.  The response?  My favorite came from a good friend.  She simply wrote ‘FU.’

I couldn’t help but laugh.

The silly game did give most of us a good laugh, though it did prompt one friend to write and ask ‘Are you ok?’ I suppose it seemed I fell and hit my head or had simply lost my mind.  For the record, I didn’t.  I just thought breast cancer was a good enough reason to spread a little ridiculousness.  After all, more than 300,000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States.

Imagine that diagnosis.

Sometimes a good laugh over something so ridiculous is the best medicine.