Time to think pink

It’s October, and if you’ve been a follower of this blog for much of the past five years, then you know where this is headed.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

I’ve never been one for causes or campaigns, but this is one I embrace wholeheartedly and trumpet full-throatedly.

In case you’re new here, a little historical perspective. In September 2000, my wife KJ was diagnosed with breast cancer. At the time, she was 34 years old. Over the next nine months, she endured the gamut of treatment — first surgery, then chemotherapy, then radiation treatments. Although there had been some significant lymph node involvement, she looked forward to a positive prognosis.

After six years of reasonable post-treatment health, KJ broke her left femur — that’s the thigh bone, to us non-medical types — during routine housework. Subsequent x-rays and tests confirmed the worst of our fears. Her cancer had metastasized to her skeleton. The site at the top of her femur, where the fracture occurred, was by far the largest tumor location, but not the only one. Radiologic scans revealed smaller tumors throughout her spine.

The new prognosis contained ugly words. Like incurable. And life-limiting. Tough words to hear at any time of life, but especially when you’re just a year past 40, and your only child is about to graduate from high school.

That was two and a half years ago. KJ continues to fight the good fight, with the help of oral chemotherapy drugs and periodic infusions of medication designed to strengthen her bones, simultaneously slowing the incursion of tumor and reducing the risk of crippling fractures. She had been able to continue working until a month ago, when her oncologist placed her on what is likely to become permanent disability status. Her situation has been complicated by other health issues unrelated to her cancer, but at the moment, she’s holding her own — as effectively as is humanly possible.

We’ve learned to value every moment of every day, in ways that we might not have, otherwise. Some days are better than others. This much we know: Every day living is better than any day dying. The difference between the two is more a matter of perspective and attitude than of medical charts and test results.

Today’s been a pretty good day.

One thing that never changes: Breast cancer sucks. (No pun intended.) We despise it with passionate fury.

We love and support every woman (and man, which we often forget) who is battling this tenacious enemy, as well as the people in their lives who try to help them keep battling.

We praise the medical, technical, and phamaceutical professionals who are helping to sustain life — and the quality of it — while seeking determinedly for a cure.

And we pray for the day when no human being will have to stare down the barrel of this cosmic gun.

If you’re a woman of any age, please learn to self-examine, and be dedicated to the practice. If you’re over 30, have a serious conversation with your physician about your risk factors, but also be aware that breast cancer strikes many women with no obvious familial, environmental, or lifestyle risks. (KJ was one.) If your doctor prescribes regular mammograms, get them.

If you’re not a woman, but you love one or more, read her/them the above paragraph.

These are hard times for everyone, we know. (Believe me, we know.) If, however, you can find it in your heart and wallet this month, please make a donation to the breast cancer charity of your choice. We’re fond of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, but there are dozens of fine organizations doing excellent work deserving of your support. So, support them if you can. A pledge to a friend or coworker who’s participating in a breast cancer walk-a-thon this month is one quick, easy, and painless way to do your part.

Let’s kill this thing.

Explore posts in the same categories: Breast Cancer Awareness, SwanStuff

2 Comments on “Time to think pink”

  1. kj Says:

    Thanks to all who have supported Uncle Swan and Km through my battle. It is not an easy road for the family members who must deal with picking up the pieces that are not completed by the one who signed on for the task almost of a partnership (who knew the ship was a lemon)almost 25 years ago. It is greatly appreciated and amazing.
    Km is off at Chico and we are very proud that she is continuing her life though not easy for her to be gone or for KJ to not see her all the time……that’s a mom thing I think. For those fighting this awful stuff hold on it is a bumpy road and take it one minute at a time.
    Thank you all so much for everything! Especially to Uncle Swan, KM, family and Kleenex 🙂 KJ

  2. Donna Says:

    I may be geographically challenged when it comes to supporting you and your girls. Know this, I continue to pledge to do my part in every way possible to be supportive of you from my own little part of the continent. I will never let you down! And to KJ, you rock girl! Next time you see Uncle Swan, give the big guy a hug from me!

    My next annual “squeeze” is in November. I get them faithfully and despite the complaints heard from many women, I say bring it on! I’ve been through childbirth three times. The first two times were only medicated with Demerol (like that really took the edge off)! The third time through labor and delivery was totally unmedicated. When compared to childbirth, the discomfort from the annual “squeeze” is really nothing at all.

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