Of all the essays I’ve written about cancer and its challenges, I’ve never started with a plea for help. But as a man with an “orphan disease” (meaning it is underfunded, rare and little-understood) I want to find my footing on this rickety road, and I would like to help others who follow in these footsteps.
My world and my work have been forever altered by my diagnosis, mastectomy and the myriad issues that are destined to be with me for the rest of my life. With regard to my chosen vocation, I’ve worked as a public speaker for 40 years. Finding cancer in my breast has inspired me with a new theme ...
Perhaps for as long as there has been suffering in the world, this seemingly innocuous phrase has been the watered down standard for vagueness. These words have a way of quickly and efficiently dismissing pain.
The truth is, I’m sometimes awakened at night with a tightness that stretches across my left shoulder from the breast bone, past my chest to the midway point under my armpit. Where it ends, there is a pool of numbness — a dead area in which the nerves which were severed during my mastectomy have no link to follow and no place to arrive with the messages they once carried. Sometimes the constriction from my scar feels like an enormous steel trap snapped down; the silvery ...
Great point, Jen! I should have put that "magic five year mark" in quotes, since it is indeed a phantom statistic that is both misunderstood and over-hyped. While it certainly doesn't promise any cure, I personally will celebrate it (when and if I get there)as I would celebrate any birthday--another year to spend on planet Earth. I explore that in greater detail in my essay "The Five-Year Survival Rate for Cancer--What do these numbers really mean? PUBLISHED: AUGUST 21, 2016.
Thanks so much for taking the time to write.
Thank you Jen! I'm curious to know about the hero's in your life. I realize that more often than not, our true hero's don't often make the front pages of the paper or write books or change the whole world. They are family members and friends, teachers and co-workers...people much more familiar to us than the "Disney's" of the planet. Thanks for your note. Khevin
You are quite right! In talking with my surgeon in Hawaii again, she described it as a sort of pre-lymphedema. Thanks for the clarification. It was the "surprise" element of this experience that caught my attention. Wish I had been better prepared (and that responsibility was all mine)
Breast cancer has taught me a lot about how I respond to everyday life. The idea, it seems to me, is to just "feel". Cancer is not a quiet visitor in our lives. It's supposed to wake us up and shake us up.
After writing my story I find that it's not so much the words I choose to describe how I feel that matters , but the energy and attitude behind them.
"Fine" is, as I suggested, a whole lot better than feeling nothing.
Thanks for taking the time to write!
Spectacular poem and wonderful to connect with you. I was diagnosed in May of 2014. Had my first ever MRI yesterday and get results on Wednesday. I feel good about it. Thanks so much for the note. Keep in touch!