I heard from a friend yesterday explaining for the first time that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. It was the kind of announcement that we all hear far too often and each time the shock is every bit as intense and devastating as before.
My friend had recently undergone mammogram testing and a biopsy for the "small cancer" in her left breast which will be removed via a lumpology and testing of the lymph nodes to be sure the cancer has not spread. She will also have a series of five-a-week radiation treatments for a period of four to six weeks.
Always a positive, cheery person, she considered it "good news" that her "bad news" test this past June was a follow up to an all clear mammogram she had in June 2009. "I am so grateful that I returned again in a year," she added. Her message was loud and clear: "Get your mammograms done ladies!" This insatiable disease can rear its ugly head at any time -- a year can make a big difference.
Coincidentally, on Thursday I had coffee with another friend (and husband) who had a similar diagnosis and treatment three years ago. She is now fine and enjoying life as much, maybe even more, than before. "The key was that my cancer was detected in the early stages," she explains now. "Oh sure, it is always in the back of your mind and maybe that is a good thing as a reminder that we should never take our health for granted."
Cancer today can be just a blip on the radar screen of life providing it is detected early enough. My two friends are here to tell all of us that the treatment that is necessary is only a small setback as a trade-off for a long-term, happy gain. Believe me, I am one who has lived on both sides of that scenario.