Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"I was diagnosed...."

A year and 10 months after being diagnosed, I have met many, many women who have said these words to me.  "I was diagnosed......"  It becomes part of a normal conversation complete with treatment, surgeries, prognosis, and more medical terms than I ever wanted to know.

It is a difficult thing as an adult to say these words and understand what they mean.  The radio station I listen to is currently doing a radiothon to benefit Children's Hospital here in Seattle.  Children's Hospital is a shining star in health care.  They take care of children who need it regardless of economic ability.  I have been listening all day and the thing that continues to bring me to tears is the interviews.  I keep hearing children as young as 3 saying those words..."I was diagnosed....".  They shouldn't even know what the word means.

Not all of the kids at Children's Hospital are dealing with cancer, but many are.  Cancer is a miserable, terrible, cruel disease and the treatment for cancer is miserable as well.  These kids who are going through chemo or radiation or stem-cell transplants are braver than brave and they don't deserve to be turned away because their families can't afford the treatment.  I hope you will join me in supporting Children's Hospital. If you are a survivor who reads this blog, I want you to remember the first time you had to say those words..."I was diagnosed".  If you are a parent who reads it, think about how your heart would hurt if you heard your children say those words.

You can Donate here

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Question of DNA

The girls are on their Mid-Winter break and we took the opportunity to find some sunshine.  My parents have a condo in Palm Desert, California and they graciously allowed us to use it for the week.  They have owned the condo for about 5 years, but this is the first time that the timing has worked out for us to use it. 

It is, of course, beautiful.  It doesn't surprise me at all that the condo is done to perfection and looks like it came straight out of a showroom.  My mother has always had beautiful taste and an eye for decorating.  She also takes great pride in having her home meticulously neat and tidy.  I am in awe of the work that she has done and the comfortable way it feels.

My mother, my sister, my grandmother and my aunt all have these same characteristics.  They all have beautiful homes and have a knack for things.  I don't have it.  I would like to think I do, but the fact is I really don't.  I know what I like and what I don't like as far as decorating, but I don't have the first clue of how to put it all together.  "Things" start to feel like clutter to me in my own home and instead of adding to the feel of the decor, they begin to feel like something else that collects dust.  It's not that I don't care what my home looks like, I do care.  I just don't know how to make it look the way I want to.

I imagine it is a question of DNA or maybe environment.  Maybe my mother got it from my grandmother and my sister got it from my mother.  So what happened to me?  How does DNA work?  If my sister and I come from the same gene pool, why don't we get the same characteristics?

The same can be said for having cancer.  Neither my mother, my sister, my aunt or my grandmother have been diagnosed with cancer, thank God, but I have.  Is it something in my DNA?  Is it something in my environment?  What is it? 

I feel like I need to figure it out because as much as I would like to have the taste that the women in my family have and be able to pass it on to my daughters, I am more concerned that what I might be passing on to my daughters is much more sinister. 

I don't want my daughters to ever have cancer.  I sincerely hope that in the way that I missed the decorating gene, they will miss the cancer gene.  I hope they have beautifully decorated homes and an appreciation for things-all while they are cancer free.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

World Cancer Day 2010

February 4th is World Cancer Day.  A day designated to raise awareness of the number #1 killer world-wide.  Not war, not HIV/Aids, not Heart Disease, not natural disasters....cancer.  That's not to say that there aren't other worthy causes in the world, because that just isn't true, but I think that sometimes people think that cancer is something far away and removed from them. 

Cancer isn't far away at all.  It can affect you, your parents, your siblings, your children, your friends.  Here are a few examples:

My friend Michael-At 45 he was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma (an oral cancer).  He is not and has never been a tobacco user.  He is healthy and active and he is now facing his 4th surgery to remove cancerous tissue after already completing chemo and radiation.  He has two tween age kids.  Michael is still fighting.

My friend Ankie-At 46 she was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer and thyroid cancer.  She is a life long athlete, eats organically and makes sure that she uses no chemicals/pesticides in her yard or home.  She has two beautiful girls.   After chemo, several surgeries and breast reconstruction, Ankie is hopeful that she is beating cancer.

My friend Wendy-At 45 she was diagnosed with Stage IV colo-rectal cancer.  Wendy is a nurse and takes care of people every day.  She has no family history and had no reason to suspect that colo-rectal cancer was in her future.  She also has two beautiful girls.  Wendy is still fighting.

My friend Marty-At age 41 he was diagnosed with a rare cancer called Thymus Carcinoma.  Marty was a firefighter and a fitness buff, training other firefighters to improve their health.  He had two young wonderful children.  Marty lost his fight June 3, 2008

Me-Tracy-At age 43 I was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer.  I have no family history and no typical risk factors.  I have two perfect, wonderful girls.  After chemo, radiation and surgery, I am hopeful that I am beating cancer.

On World Cancer Day, make a commitment.

Click to give free mammograms:

Check out the opportunities at the American Cancer Society:

Donate today. I am walking in the Susan G. Komen 3 day walk again this year.  I am hoping to raise over 5000.00 dollars this year.