Friday, February 24, 2012

breast cancer.

is it just another unfortunate product of aging that
breast cancer seems to be invading my space
with growing frequency??

our odds of contracting breast cancer
rise along with our number of years . . .

according to the national cancer institute,
an american woman's chance is
1 in 233 in her thirties,
1 in 69 in her forties,
1 in 42 in her fifties,
1 in 29 in her sixties,
& 1 in 8 over her lifetime.

so at almost 45yo, i've got a 12.5% chance
of being diagnosed with breast cancer sometime,
but only a 1.45% chance of it happening between now & 50yo.

my cousin faced those same odds up until two weeks ago,
when she was told she has breast cancer.
she began treatment yesterday, with her first chemotherapy session.

she has four kids under twelve,
one of whom is a preschool-age ethiopian orphan boy
her family adopted just last year.

she had a clear mammogram last november.

meanwhile, my dear college friend
just underwent an elective double mastectomy.

she has known for years she carries the breast cancer [brac] gene.
her doctor estimated her lifetime chance of getting the disease
at over 84%.

as she so very logically noted,
"if the weatherman says there's an 84% chance of rain,
then i'm taking an umbrella."

but logic has little to do with going from thirty years as a d-cup
to a flat plain of chest scarred by
two t-shaped incisions where your girls were.

she's got expanders, she's getting implants,
next summer, she'll even tattoo new 2-d nipples
onto her permanently perky reconstruction projects.

& while these women i love do what they can
to beat this insidious disease to the tko punch,
komen for the cure, america's biggest & best-known
breast-cancer organization, showed its ass-for-hire.

komen succumbed to political pressure & announced its intention
to eliminate about $750,000 worth of grants to planned parenthood.

the media pounced. the public denounced.
komen excused, apologized, abandoned & reversed.
which was the right thing to do,
in lieu of having done the right thing to begin with.

the fact is, planned parenthood provides over 770,000 american women
with breast examinations & paid-for mammograms & ultrasounds each year.
women who need & otherwise could not afford to pay for such life-saving services.

i don't know what komen was thinking, but i do know
i'll be thinking long & hard before returning with my family
to the komen austin race for the cure next autumn.

with the support of my wonderful friends & extended family,
i've personally & proudly raised about $2,000 for komen
through my family's participation at the race the past two years.

now, i'm wondering how to best raise funds
for planned parenthood of the texas capital region,
breast cancer resource centers of texas, or
the md anderson cancer center, where my cousin is currently being treated.

they say what you pay attention to grows.
so the last thing i want to pay attention to is breast cancer.

but it seems to keep popping up like some goddamned whack-a-mole from hell.
i guess you just must put down the mallet & walk away,
unless & until one of them chases you — or someone you love — down & attacks.

image source: zena musings.

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