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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wistful Wednesday

In Honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month

First of all, I want to dedicate this post to every person who's ever been touched by breast cancer in any form or manner. For the survivors, I congratulate you on your strength and persistence and can honestly say that I am glad you're still here. For the families of the survivors, I congratulate you on being there for your family members afflicted with this disease and thank you for supporting them in their struggles. And for those who did not survive, I say a silent prayer for you and hope that your loss is not in vain, but is one step in the journey that will bring an end to this horrible disease.

I have always been very aware of the fact that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month - you can't watch Ellen and not be! And I have always said a silent prayer for those who've been afflicted with it and counted my blessings that I didn't personally know anyone who had it. Well, I can't make that claim anymore. Last week, I found out that my older sister has breast cancer and is being operated on this week for it. Fortunately for her, they caught it in the first stage, so her recovery should be a lot less daunting than for someone whose cancer was found in later stages. For this, I am eternally grateful. But I still worry about her; my sister has a rather fragile psyche and I'm afraid that the emotional toll will be harder on her than the physical one. 

Which brings up an interesting point. When we discover that someone we love - or that we, ourselves - have cancer, we often focus our attention on the physical toll it's going to take on them/us. We worry about the damage the cancer will cause to their/our bodies; we worry about the toll the therapies will take on their/our bodies. But do we spend enough time concentrating on the emotional toll it takes? Do we think about the depression, despair, sadness it evokes, not just on the sufferer, but on the family, as well? 

Learning that someone you love has cancer is devastating. I know this firsthand because, in the past two months, I discovered that two of my family members have it: My aunt, who is on dialysis for diabetic-related kidney disease (and so the options for her are extremely limited), has cancer in her brain, lungs and kidneys; and now my sister, who has breast cancer. And while we are really optimistic for my sister's recovery, we are not so much for my aunt. These are not my first encounters with cancer. When I was younger, I lost two uncles (my father's only sibling and one of my mother's brothers), a grandfather, and numerous aunts and cousins to various forms of cancer. The memory of those losses haunt me. I remember how devastated I wants to learn of each passing and how I cried with each loss. I think we owe it to ourselves to release those emotions because if we don't, they will cause us more emotional distress in the long run. And we need to help our loved ones get through the emotional tolls on their persons, as well as the physical ones. We can't forget  how heartbreaking this news is to them; we need to support them as they vent their feelings and help them to build up the courage to endure the disease and the therapy for it.

So to that end, here's something you can do: Just hug your loved ones and let them know you are there for them, you support them, and they are not alone. Don't take them - or life - for granted. Take a moment to appreciate everything you have in life and everyone you share it with. And be good to yourself; take care of you so you can take care of others. You'll be glad that you did.

For everyone who reads this blog, I'm sending you a big virtual hug - now pass it on to someone you love!

1 Moonbeams (comments):

Margay Leah Justice said...

Just got an update on my sister. The surgery went well and she is recovering. She will have to undergo six weeks of radiation treatment after this.