Cancer, to be blunt about it, is one of those things that Happens to Other People. My extended family is quite small (just one uncle, who married late and had no children, so no first cousins) and not very close. So those second and third cousins, or the once and twice removed members of my family tree who've been affected by this disease are no closer to me than, say, Harmon Killebrew, whose recent passing was noted in these pages. So i really had no gage to measure my reaction against when, 6 weeks ago, Mrs. Dependable called me in the middle of my baseball roadtrip to DC and Baltimore to say "the doctors didn't like something they saw on my mammogram, and they've asked me to come back for a followup."
These past 6 weeks have been pretty stressful. At any number of points when the really smart people have said "this is probably nothing, but we need to look at this," it's turned out to be something. Which led, inevitably, to a day at Duke surgery yesterday.
As a friend of mine said recently, "the good news is that this is pretty routine. The bad news is that this is pretty routine." And i'm certain for the doctors, nurses,and support staff, it is just another day on the job. For the rest of us, if we're lucky, it's a once in a lifetime experience. For the professionalism extended to us by every member of the Duke medical staff, we are eternally grateful.
It's a cliché to say "i feel as if the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders." But clichés, as Jimmy Buffett once noted, are good ways to say what you mean, and mean what you say. And i can think of no other way to describe what i felt when the surgeon met with me yesterday afternoon and said, "her lymph nodes are clean." Yes, there's a one in fifteen chance that this will return within the next ten years or so. But we'll take those odds, and see what comes.
As it turns out, we're extremely lucky. I earn a decent salary. I have decent health insurance through my employer, and the ability to pay my deductibles and co-insurance with pre-tax dollars. But even with all that, we're looking at out of pocket expenses that would break many people in this country. It's absurd to consider just how many people think this is normal, or worse, desirable.
The Susan G Komen Race for the Cure
is this weekend. If you can afford it, donate. If you can't, remind those around you that early detection saves lives. It really does.
Labels: cancer, health care
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