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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

 

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