healing * cancer

This morning, I was pleased to attend the inaugural kick-off breakfast, “Making Strides against Breast Cancer,” sponsored by the Orange County chapter of the American Cancer Society. I created a team for my university so we can participate in the 5k walk-a-thon to support finding a cure!   I enjoyed listening to survivors whose personal testimonies encompassed suffering yet embraced life.  The beauty of women was highlighted with dignity, emphasizing their inner strength & survivorship.


I also very much enjoyed the pink-frosted cupcakes at my table!  Cupcakes for breakfast are a special treat…. plus spinach quiche, croissants, pineapples, cantaloupe, and watermelon.  I drank tarragon mint tea.


Last night, I counted on both hands – more than both hands – the number of people I know who’ve survived cancer or passed away from cancer.  There are many, and early detection in all cases was the key to survival, as well as a positive outlook, faith, & an active prayer life.


On the various journeys each person experienced, I think (1) anger, (2) stress, and (3) bitterness were deterrents to healing…. especially if a person felt isolated or couldn’t forgive someone.  It’s healthy to embrace the good sparks in life – even if they’re sparse for a season – and find ways to work through painful & uncertain realities.  It’s also good to be blessed by loving friends; it’s hard to endure this sort of journey alone.


Women over the age of 40:  Get your annual mammograms!  At the presentation, the Director of Radiology from Hoag Hospital showed pictures of a new kind of technology called “digital tomosynthesis,” which yields higher resolution than regular mammograms. Digital tomosynthesis is especially useful for precise image-slicing of dense tissues, and it’s been used for research, but hasn’t been available for patient care.  Even better news for patients:  none of that icky “squooshing” with regular mammos (which, by the way, are low-dose x-rays).  Even teeny-tiny calcified specks are visible on the digital imaging.  Needless to say, I could’ve listened to this presentation for hours.


I remember taking a radiology course as a pre-med student.  The professor showed us pictures of advanced breast cancer and radical mastectomies:  Basically, if the lump is already palpable, it’s in the later stages and could be metastatic.  (I am a poet, not a doctor, and not a doctor-poet like William Carlos Williams, so please take all this with a big grain of salt!)  When I was a student, I had no idea then that this sort of technology would evolve to benefit cancer patients today.  How exciting, and how wonderful for patients who can afford excellent health care.

“Cancer doesn’t wear a watch,” said Lori Smith, Chair of the Board-elect of the California Division, the American Cancer Society.

I love listening to stories of hope… again and again.


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