Cancer. Get Up, Stand Up.


In the spirit of Stand Up to Cancer today (click above and learn more), I am posting the story of cancer in my family. It is probably no different than the stories of cancer in your families. It seems Cancer affects all of us in some way. Daily, we live with screenings, lumps, scares, treatments, survivals, and deaths. My story can be lined up next to my neighbor’s whose sister in law is undergoing serious treatment for breast cancer, my playgroup friend whose husband recently made it through testicular cancer, and my childhood friend who recently and very suddenly lost his mother to breast cancer. My story is just another story; unfortunately cancer is among all of us.

Growing up, my family traveled and lived abroad – at times for as long as 5 years. My father worked for the State Department and, before we could leave to any country, we were expected to endure a litinay of health tests before we were cleared. Once cleared, the government allowed us 2 years of travel before having to come back to the U.S. for another health screening.

In 1992, my family went through the paces of our screening. I have explained before that my family has a long history of breast cancer. My mother knew her chances of finding a lump after menopause would be high. And due to her health history, my mother had her annual mammogram. This time a very small mass was found. These doctors, however, cleared her for travel. They were convinced this lump was nothing to be concerned with.

My mother knew better.

She had another mammogram and sought out a second opinion. Indeed, the lump was something to be concerned with. Not only was the lump cancerous but it was starting to metastasize – there was a threat this cancer would spread shortly. My mother had a lumpectomy and her lymph glands in her arm were removed. She experienced radiation and more than 6 months of horrible chemotherapy. She lost her hair, her body struggled, it was a very difficult time. She beat it, however, and has been in remission now for 15 years. 

But let me be very clear about one point. If she had not been pro-active about her health, had accepted her health clearance, and then lived abroad for another two years with her lump ignored, she may not be with us today. We all must be our own health advocates. Ask questions, get second opinions. This is your body not your doctor’s.

While fairly minor, I have also had my own cancer scare. At 28, precancerous cells were found on my cervix. A quarter sized portion of my cervix was removed. Needless to say, as soon as I was healthy, my husband and I started a family. If those cells were to return, I didn’t want to have to lose anymore “quarter sized” portions of my cervix before my babies were born. And you can be sure that I never postpone my annual PAP smear – and so far so good.

Now that I’ve shared these personal stories of mine, I am guessing you are thinking about your own experiences. Like I said, my story is one of millions, and we are at least grateful for our healthy outcomes.

Tonight, take the time to watch Stand up to Cancer. It’s Friday night for crying out loud. Nothing else is on anyway. Think about what you can do to Stand up to cancer.

What, you don’t think that there is anything we can do?

Watch this amazing story about a cancer survivor who did stand up to cancer. My mother stood up to cancer, she survived. Even if we aren’t fighting with cancer personally, by having annual PAP screenings, doing breast or testicular exams, and following up with our own health care on a regular basis, we are all standing up to cancer.

Wishing you health and peace today.



Filed under Breast cancer, Health, Reality check

11 responses to “Cancer. Get Up, Stand Up.

  1. Thank you for sharing all of this. It is so vitally important to be our own advocates!!

    Linked you!

  2. Pingback: the thing is, I’m not standing alone « Just Enjoy Him: Ramblings of a Mid-Life Mom

  3. Thank you for sharing your story and reminding me how important it is to be proactive — and not to skip my pap smears.

  4. You’re so right about being your own health advocate. My parents have both had cancer and are doing well today.

  5. Thanks! People forget that WE are the ones living in our bodies. They figure that they will take what the doctor says as truth. They feel like they are a thorn in the side of doctors that are too overworked. NEVER feel that way. If you need to, find a doctor with whom you feel like you can ask questions.

  6. I woke up this morning realizing I forgot another part of my family’s cancer story! My mother also had skin cancer before I was born and was extremely lucky to survive. Her best friend had the same type of melenoma and she unfortunately passed away.

    How could I forget that?

    Is cancer really that normal and not that big of a deal?

    Check your skin, pay attention to the ABC’s of your moles.
    A – Asymetry
    B – Border
    C – Color
    D – Diameter (anything bigger than an eraser head)
    E – elevation

    Firemom – Thanks for being so proactive about this campaign and adding my post to your list! The show last night was amazing, I hope everyone watched.

  7. This is a wonderful story. Yes, you HAVE to be proactive about your health – my mom was and it is because of this that she has been in remission of breast cancer for 6 years now. She and I just finished the Breast Cancer 3 Day in Cleveland a couple weeks ago. I feel like that is my way of standing up. Everyone does it differently and good for you for being proactive in your health!

  8. Do you remember the scene in the movie St. Elmo’s Fire where Wendy Beamish’s (Mare Winningham’s character) mom has a dinner party and whispers all the “bad” words like “cancer?” I kinda feel the same way. It’s a total head-in-the-sand attitude that I force myself to shake out of. I am vigilant about my own screenings and PAP smears, and Mac Daddy gets his moles checked annually. My father in law died of lung cancer a year ago. It was painful, heartbreaking, and eye opening. Cancer is among us. Being our own advocates is the only way to fight it.

  9. Pakde sofa

    this a good story, and thank for sharing your all of this. wonderfull

  10. ur writing was really great.
    where I live, in IRAN, people suffering from cancer have should face many other problems:
    1) the Culture, Cancer still is a taboo and some people dont want to hear this word even when they have it!

    2) Most insurance companies refuse to support cancer! and Iran as a banned company have many problems in producing drugs!

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