Thursday, April 17, 2014

Un-Sexy Breasts

I've hesitated writing about this because it isn't my story to tell so I will just keep it to my feelings and reactions to learning that my oldest, closest girlfriend was diagnosed with breast cancer.  "We are way too young!" was my first thought, but of course we are not.  "But she's the healthiest person I know!" I thought next...as though that's ever stopped cancer before.  There is no family history.  She was 38 when she discovered a mass during a routine self-exam.  To my readers in your thirties - when was the last time you did a self-exam?  Really and truly.  It seems that there was a bigger PR push for self-exams in my twenties than in my 30s.  In my shared housing in college we even had a hangtag on our shower caddy reminding us every time we took a shower.  My friend is a nurse at Planned Parenthood so perhaps she thinks about women's health more.  Or hell, maybe she just feels herself up more.  Like I said, not my story to tell.  All I know is that she was told to come back in a year to have it checked again.  When she returned last month it was immediately diagnosed.

Today is her surgery and it's all I can do not to get on a plane right now just so I can smother her with love and cooking and taking care of her household for her.  But I know she has a very strong circle of girlfriends around her who love her as much as I do and will take good care of her.  Her doctors are optimistic and she is trying to be positive so I might as well too.

This is the 2nd time breast cancer has affected my close circle of friends.  You may recall my writing about my friend Patt who passed away in June, 2012.  This isn't uncommon.  It's a disease that strikes 1 in 8 women in the U.S. (if these statistics are to be believed) and is the 2nd highest cancer rate of women behind lung cancer.  These will not be the only women I know affected by it.  I pray that I will not be.

I'm not a fan of that "pink for breast cancer" crap.  And it's not even that helpful, really.  I was super pissed at the Susan B. Komen organization for cutting funding to Planned Parenthood, even though they've reinstated that funding.  They have a decent rating on Charity Navigator (if you don't know about this site already, it's incredibly useful before making contributions), but I tend to think that if it weren't for the extreme and massive public backlash, that funding would still be cut.

I don't want to buy any pink ribbon junk.  I don't really want to participate in any Race for the Cures.  I think, on my next payday,  I will just donate in my friend's name to Planned Parenthood, where she works part time and where low-income women can be screened for cancer in addition to receiving contraception and other women's health services.  

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