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Home / Articles / Features / Feature Articles /  Tell Me Again How Lucky I Am!
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Monday, March 7,2011

Tell Me Again How Lucky I Am!

By Mary Jo  

When I woke up from the anesthesia, I asked my family: “It was acyst, right?” My eighteen-year old son Ben replied, “No, Mom, it was cancer, but he said it was the kind young athletic women get, and I said you’d like that!” What a relief! I got the lucky kind of cancer! But cancer is lucky in one respect. It makes us re-assess our priorities. And re-assess I did! For one thing, I was finished being a martyr. Before my cancer, I would suffer dramatically over imagined slights. I always ate the burned toast. My son brought me burned toast for Mother’s Day because he thought that’s how I liked it. After

cancer, if the toast was burned, I threw it out. (Okay, if it was only a little burned, I might cover it with peanut butter. “Children starving in China” runs deep.)

I also decided to stop sweating the small stuff. Don’t make a federal case out of a haircut or a sloppy room, as long as the grades stay up, and the police don’t deliver our children home to us. I went on my happy way a little wiser. But I had more lessons to learn. My second “brush with luck” had interesting moments, too. One day during daily radiation treatment, I went to the dressing room and donned my little flowered cape. When I got to the waiting area, there were four women already there. I stopped in amazement. “Oh my gosh! We all showed up in the same outfit!” One of them looked up and said, “I’m so glad you got the memo.” Then another one piped up, looking at all the peach fuzz growing back on heads from chemotherapy and added, “And I think we all got the same bad haircut!” Finding the humor helped us all.

the waiting area, there were four women already there. I stopped in amazement. "Oh my gosh! We all showed up in the same outfit!" One of them looked up and said, "I’m so glad you got the memo." Then another one piped up, looking at all the peach fuzz growing back on heads from chemotherapy and added, "And I think we all got the same bad haircut!" Finding the humor helped us all.

Then there were five years of hormone suppression. I learned that even in side effects, there can be luck. With my own very efficient heating (and humidity) system, I saved a fortune in heating bills, only partially offset by my husband’s investment in blankets. I was appointed poster child for Post-it notes, having gone through thousands keeping track of things I used to be able to remember- like my mother’s name. I could probably get work as a mall parking lot security guard; I’ve spent so much time there trying to find my car.

It’s humor that helps us deal with treatment, the uncertainty, and all the dumb stuff people say to us. They mean well, but they don’t really think, like my doctors who kept telling me, right after I’d lost a breast, how lucky I was! Our experiences are all different, like our bodies: some of us have big boobs and others no boobs. And some of us have boobs for friends--or doctors. "Lucky" changes with our age and situation. Being here to celebrate every day and ferret out the humorous bits is the real luck.

 

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