Let me start you with the photo I took out my front door this morning. It was one of those God Incidents that literally stopped me in my tracks as I headed to the car. The air was still moist from a wonderful rain a couple of days ago. Fall is in the air and God is living right here in my neighborhood.
I have never before in my life done anything at the appropriate time. When all the other girls were buying hula hoops in the early 60’s I was still wearing a Davy Crocket coonskin hat from the 50’s. During the 60’s when I had permission, nay, a mandate-- to rebel, smoke pot and dress down, I was still wearing pleated skirts and thinking like a Republican. I’ve always been a step behind in my timing.
But damned if I didn’t manage to get breast cancer during Breast Cancer Awareness month. Gimme a high five for finally getting something right, even if it was a disease.
And if I learned anything doing it I learned how important it is to have regular mammograms. My prognosis is excellent because we caught it early. The odds of me dying from this cancer may be less than getting killed on the freeway on New Year’s Eve and I’ll take those odds anytime.
Emily insists that me getting breast cancer is divine retribution for my Clif Notes Method of Breast Cancer Walks. Similar to our Clif Notes on Museum visiting (see 9/21/10 blog) this one shows the same genius of attaining the final goal without all the boring stuff in the middle.
For several years we have been aware of the Race for the Cure held every October in Dallas. It’s a gathering of zillions of cancer-aware women in pink ball caps, new running shoes and the latest fashionable sportswear. They run a 5K route around North Park shopping center and what’s more they actually pay money to do this. The race always ends, conveniently enough, right by the Cheesecake Factory which is just about the most Chick-friendly place in town, maybe in the world. Women and cheesecake: it’s totally a win-win situation.
Elizabeth stumbled upon the race finish one year by innocently planning lunch at the restaurant. Instead she found it overflowing with women celebrating their health by gorging on cheesecake.
When she came home and told her sister and me about the race and victory lunches we agreed that this is something we should do. But then I had an even better idea. Why not make a donation to Breast Cancer Research, eliminate the running part and then just go for lunch at Cheesecake Factory? That way we wouldn’t even be tied down to a specific date. I have a certain genius about these things and we decided this was more our speed.
THEN when I started researching for this post I found out somebody else had already thought of it…almost like they were listening to me all this time. In addition to the Race for the Cure now you can Sleep In for the Cure. You send them $32 and stay home. You even get a free shirt just everybody else. In fact you get everything everybody else gets except a runner’s bib with a number on it. You don’t get a number because (oh, I’m just aquiver at the genius of it all) you don’t actually go anywhere. However, they do not mention lunch at the Cheesecake Factory.
I’m still new at this cancer thing and feel like a total fraud. I never supported breast cancer research or this race. The only thing pink I’ve ever worn is of a Flamingo theme. And here I am the beneficiary of many of those $32 entrance fees and donations. When I visited the surgeon’s office to plan my treatment I found more resources than I could ever have imagined. Let me tell you: if you’ve got to get a disease it’s best to get one that is fashionable. I’m sure athlete's foot or genital herpes doesn’t have research foundations or patient advocates right there in the doctor’s office. I was given a blue three-ring binder with six tabs and more information than I could imagine. It has a vocabulary list and a scientific medical section with pictures explaining what I needed to know, a place to keep notes, doctor’s bills and insurance letters. I immediately started calling it my cancer notebook and became immensely proud of it.
I’m grateful because I know how much worse this could have been. I caught it early before it could turn into the scary kind of cancer. Obviously, women who go for regular mammograms catch tumors earlier than those who are haphazard about it. There are some things in life I do just because I’m supposed to, like flu shots and getting your teeth cleaned on a regular basis. You just do it. And it paid off big-time for me. Get your mammogram.
OK, that’s enough about cancer. No more cancer talk unless something funny comes along.
Next week: The Flamingos are back.