Know Your Cancer


I was at a luncheon the other day attended by people who have been touched by cancer in various ways.  Some were being recognized for their good work in the fight against the beast.  Some had left their white coats on a hook in the lab and were there to address the group with the latest news on research in cancer world.  One doctor called this “the golden age for cancer research.”  A bold statement to be sure, but he backed it up with facts and discoveries that link cancer and the genome and how the two are beginning to reveal how closely linked they really are, leading some scientists to develop better treatments for many cancers.

So there she was, sitting next to me.  A lovely woman, without a shy bone in her body.  We started talking about nothing really…then she mentioned she was not only a survivor of breast cancer, but a three time warrior of the disease. 

She was sure her cancer came from hormone replacement therapy.  She felt not one lump but two and this came just weeks after her regular check-up.  When she’d seen her doctor, she was told her mamogram was clear, but that wasn’t good enough for her.  She knew something was wrong and pushed and pushed for more tests.  Not only did they find cancer, but two different kinds of tumors in one breast and another tumor in the other breast. 

What to do?  She listened to the opinions, but more importantly, she began to get educated about her disease.  She explained how important that part of the fight was because it gave her an opinion worth listening too.  And it helped guide the doctors in their decision when it came to treatment.

She had major surgery. Twice.  It was her decision.  It was her choice and she said she’s sure she wouldn’t be sitting next to me at the table, if she hadn’t advocated for herself. 

“Get educated” is the way she put it.  “If cancer comes into your life, get educated.” “Don’t just say yes to the doctors, know as much about your cancer as you can.”

Who could question her logic?  She’s living proof of how important it is to be your own advocate in the cancer fight. 

I love meeting people like this.  They remind me that the will to live, for how ever long, will trump the beast every time.

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