Friday, October 1, 2010


There Are Not Enough Solid Yellow Tags On this Memorial Board

Not nearly enough for anyone to feel remotely safe or far removed from this disease.  And I am not speaking specifically about Breast Cancer, although my brother-in-law devoted the last two years of his life to promoting awareness of that dreaded disease. His wife, my sister, was tortured by breast cancer for eight years, before she finally succumbed in 1995. It's odd how coincidence's play an ironic roll in life. Estee Lauder was the first to use a pink ribbon to denote awareness for breast cancer.  She was also the maker of my sister's favorite perfume, from the time my sister was in high school until the day she died.  For my sister's story please click on this link.  Although my brother-in-law's life was not consumed by cancer, his death was certainly a direct result of my sister's breast cancer.  His heart-breaking story is here.

Although I have been a victim of cancer, mine was not breast cancer, nor was the cancer that took my father's life.  Which is why I advocate research for any type of cancer.  Though I am not sure if a 'cure' can ever be found, there are certainly treatments that can cause remissions, and isn't time what we are all looking for?

My brother-in-law's - hence my - mission was to promote awareness, to urge each and every person he met to be aware of their bodies, and see a doctor at any subtle differences that indicate change.

His message was not only that which doctors consider most valuable - early detection - but it was one that could have saved my sister, and my father.   My sister had noticed a lump.

Which is why I am here today - I'll give in and reluctantly add - literally, and figuratively.   The doctor my sister saw said, "Oh, it's probably nothing, we'll just watch it."  I have added to my brother-in-law's cause, "If you think something is wrong and your doctor doesn't, find another doctor." 

By the time my sister knew it wasn't 'nothing,' it was far too late.

I am here to advise everyone, if you do not feel your physician is as concerned as you are, please do not feel as though the opinion he/she has given you is written in stone.  It is not. They are not Gods.  I know in some, there still exists that, ' I'm not the doctor, what do I know?'  attitude.  What everyone needs to realize is that doctors do make mistakes, some might even be openly, deeply sorry for them, but they do not know everything. If your doctor does not think you need a second opinion, find a better doctor. Any professional worth his salt should be able to stand up to doubt with self-confidence.  One who cannot is unsure, and should not be giving opinions to begin with.

If you are afraid to go to a doctor, for fear of knowing, think of your family, they'll Thank You  in the end   when the end is postponed until further notice.

Get any and every test known to man if you are in doubt. Most are not time consuming, nor painful.  If you do not have health insurance, and cannot afford necessary testing, call your local Office of Social Services.  There are programs available everywhere to assist you.  My brother-in-law began a fund in the town he and my sister loved, a Memorial Fund to help women monetarily in need.

At this juncture, I feel it necessary to make one final point.  Although I am sure the huge pharmaceutical companies are doing their best when it comes to the research, and fund-raising campaigns raise millions for research, I believe there should be more funds made available through donations to help those in need.  Those whose health insurance has maxed out, or those who have no insurance, to assist in the care of cancer victims, not simply to continue medications, but to assist the families of victims.  For behind every cancer victim, there stands a family that could very well not be eating, or losing their home due to the cost of an ill family member.

My heart, as well as my very existence, has been touched by cancer since I was ten years old.  That was forty some odd years ago folks, and I think if there had been any 'cure' for cancer I'd have heard about it. So please sit back and think about donating to local organizations that personally assist victims and their families ( Thank You Ronald McDonald House in Providence R.I. for housing my friends who came to support me). 

Last, and far from least...

Thank You Dr. Walter Gajewski, for fifteen more years than I was supposed to have on this earth, I am trying to be worthy of them.

I'll get off my soap-box now...  :}


  1. I think cancer has touched almost everybody, certainly in my family. Mama and my sister closest to me in age both got breast cancer in their forties, which makes me really high risk. But so far, so good. Melanoma has also been a big Reaper in my family. Thanks for this awareness post, and I think many people have gotten other doctors because the one they had didn't take their concerns seriously. I'm glad you did it, too!!

  2. I have just come from a friend who is not getting a recommended ultrasound for ovarian cancer because she thinks she can't afford it, with no insurance. I love your emphasis on direct donations for those in need, at the same time I push for universal care. I disagree that the pharmaceutical companies are doing all they can. I think you're just being nice, there. They'll cure baldness and limp penises, first. There's quite a racket involved with getting a lot of money for "cancer research," a lot of which goes to cancer research fundraising. Your emphasis is much better.

    Your whole post, though, reminds me of a friend who had one breast removed at age forty and found a lump in the other two years later. She went to her doctor, who palpated the lump and said "I think you're all right, but we're going to want to keep an eye on that." She told him: "Why don't you take the lump out and put it in a jar on your desk where you can keep a REAL good eye on it?"

  3. I'm so sorry you've had such heartache in your life from such a young age. Cancer is a monster. My mother is breast cancer survivor of almost 28 years, thank God, but my father died of pancreatic cancer within months of being diagnosed. We all need to keep vigilant, stay smart, and give what we can to responsible organizations, while we pray they find a cure. xo Paulette

  4. We are hoping for the day when you can photograph a table with ONLY solid yellow tags. But the color does not matter, yellow, pink -- we must be supportive of efforts to improve and extend the quality of life for ALL who suffer from ANY form of cancer. Like you, my introduction to cancer came at an early age (I was 13) when my younger brother lost his life to leukemia. It's been a long, long time since then, but one does not forget. I would like to see ALL of it... as you said near the closing "postponed until further notice". This was a very powerful, well written and moving posting.

  5. Thanks for your push to get people to take preventative measures.
    My mom died of cancer at 57. I hate to say I often think, "I have four years until I'm 57."
    I liked what Murr Brexster said about, why don't you put the ;lump in the jar and keep an eye on it.

  6. I lost both my mother and father to cancer. Having just had a skin cancer taken off my arm a few days ago, I relent that likely cancer will be a part of my life in the future... it is not a case of "if" as "when". All we can do is do the good fight.

  7. You are correct Murr. I was trying to be nice.... but honesty is the better policy! And more people should be like your friend, kudo's to her for standing up to the degree.

    Although it's disheartening to know there are so many people either affected personally, or through relations, by this disease in general, I am encouraged by the openess in expressions.

    It's a good indication a good portion of the population is more aware than twenty years ago. More aware than the doctor that treated my sister.

  8. Thanks for the reminder, will buy a pink ribbon bracelet this morning.
    Thank you also for entering my giveaway. I threw the entre nous notes in the big bowl, fingers crossed for you!
    Have a happy happy Monday xx

  9. My friend died of breast cancer after her doctor said he would watch it for awhile to see if it amounted to anything. No biopsy, nothing!

    She was just 42.

  10. Good advice. I agree. Second opinions are worth it, in any case, not just with cancer. Thanks for letting everyone know about this story.

  11. Cancer certainly touches most people in one way or another. Thanks for sharing your families story - glad that you have had such a great outcome.