The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Community News Network

November 21, 2012

Essay: Surviving breast cancer, and losing so many friends

WASHINGTON — My friends are dying. My wonderful, funny, kind, generous friends are dying.

Sometimes I want to scream at the unfairness of it all. But then nobody ever said life was fair. My oncology counselor, who has worked with cancer patients and their families for going on 20 years, told me that when you work in this field, the deaths come in clusters. She doesn't know why, but it just happens that way. This will be my first cluster.

Unlike her, I am not "in this field" by choice. Four years ago, at age 51, I received a diagnosis of breast cancer. Like most people would be, I was blindsided. There is no history of breast cancer in my family. There is, however, a history of other cancers on both sides of my family tree.

I lost my father to cancer when I was barely 12 years old and he was 38. The first tumor was in his throat. His mother was 50 when she succumbed to pancreatic cancer. His youngest brother was a robust 70 when lung cancer stole his life. My feisty, tough maternal grandmother was 75 when they discovered cancer in her kidneys.

Obviously I'm not stranger to death; still, I am struggling big-time here.

When you have cancer, life does an about-face. Suddenly things that seemed so important — climbing the corporate ladder, paying off your mortgage, making sure your kid gets on the best soccer team — well, they just aren't all that important anymore. People matter, quality time with those you love matters, even if — especially if — they are dying.

Take one good friend of mine. She has Stage IV breast cancer. A 38-year-old registered nurse, she is a member of the military. She has climbed the ranks faster than most because she is hardworking, dedicated and determined. The military was her life.

Text Only
Community News Network
  • American sunscreens need an upgrade

    The last time a new sunscreen ingredient came on the U.S. market, the Y2K bug was threatening to destroy our way of life. Intel had just introduced the Pentium III processor, featuring an amazing 500 MHz of computing power.

    April 24, 2014

  • 20140424-AMX-COFFEE24.jpg Coffee growers' prayers for rain met with threat of deluge

    Brazil's drought made arabica coffee this year's best-performing commodity. Now, farmers are facing a downpour that is once more threatening crops.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Celebrity quack moms are a terrible influence on everyday parents

    On April 15, the actress Alicia Silverstone released a book called "The Kind Mama: A Simple Guide to Supercharged Fertility, a Radiant Pregnancy, a Sweeter Birth, and a Healthier, More Beautiful Beginning." It's chock-full of attachment parenting lessons and dangerous misinformation.

    April 24, 2014

  • Affirmative action ruling challenges colleges seeking diversity

    The U.S. Supreme Court's support of Michigan's ban on race-based affirmative action in university admissions may spur colleges to find new ways to achieve diversity without using racial preferences.

    April 23, 2014

  • A 'wearable robot' helps her walk again

    Science is about facts, numbers, laws and formulas. To be really good at it, you need to spend a lot of time in school. But science is also about something more: dreaming big and helping people.

    April 23, 2014

  • Cuba is running out of condoms

    The newest item on Cuba's list of dwindling commodities is condoms, which are now reportedly in short supply. In response, the Cuban government has approved the sale of expired condoms.

    April 23, 2014

  • The waffle taco's biggest enemy isn't McDonald's. It's consumer habits.

    Gesturing to Taco Bell, Thompson said McDonald's had "not seen an impact relative to the most recent competitor that entered the [breakfast] space," and that new competition would only make McDonald's pursue breakfast more aggressively.

    April 23, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 4.42.47 PM.png VIDEO: Leopard attacks crowd in India

    A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • The top 12 government programs ever

    Which federal programs and policies succeed in being cost-effective and targeting those who need them most? These two tests are obvious: After all, why would we spend taxpayers' money on a program that isn't worth what it costs or helps those who do not need help?

    April 22, 2014

  • In cuffs... 'Warlock' in West Virginia accused of sexual assault

    Police in West Virginia say a man claiming to be a “warlock” used promises of magical spells to lure children into committing sexual acts with him.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo