This too shall pass

16 05 2013

I wish someone had explained to me earlier in life that experiences, both good and bad, are the sum of who you are as a person. And like anything else hung on the fragile thread of time, has a beginning, a middle and an end.

Seems pretty obvious to me now at 42.5 years young but if someone had sat me down at 25 and explained this to me, would I have lived my life differently?

I was pretty healthy up until I was diagnosed with cancer. I was rarely ill, exercised regularly, ate reasonably well. So when I got sick from the treatment and it’s after effects which have lated two years now (and counting) I begin to wonder am I ever going to feel healthy again? Like the person I was before all this? Probably not. I just realized that this experience today just taught me the lesson above.

So when you are 40 and healthy and hate being photographed because you’re too (WHATEVER) realize how beautiful you are. I look back at pictures of myself precancer and wonder why I hated being photographed. Stupid superficial vanity. Youth is wasted on the young, and beauty is wasted on the beautiful. Now I see the real life. The beauty in struggling everyday to gain back what’s yours. And never stopping. It’s hard and real and people don’t look at that kind of stuff to find beauty, they seem to prefer the more obvious sort. But it’s there. Somewhere deep inside me where it’s cold and it’s dark. It has funny scars. And I see it, because that’s where I have to find it now. And it will grow like a seed that was stored in a closet. I saved it just in time before it died. My self esteem has been crushed by cancer and the rejection associated with it. I have to nurture myself back to whatever health I can muster at this point.

And this period of recovery is a time that will pass too because life is unfolding everyday in ways we can’t even imagine. Sometimes it’s comforting to know that there’s a natural end to every situation that I find insurmountable. It’s just the way the universe works.

Kure Beach, NC

Kure Beach, NC


The back nine and how to prepare for it

10 05 2013

March was my two year cancerversary. Two years since diagnosis.  To say that I tried to sit down and write a thousand times would be an understatement. There have been too many obstacles recently to even put my thoughts in order. But the other day I gleaned this little gem that I thought was worth sharing.

I broke up with M. The person who cared for me all through treatment. Who was there for me when my family members and friends weren’t.  To say that my illness was a burden on our relationship would be painting it lightly and I am suffering a horrible amount of guilt about how my illness has compounded the issues that I was already challenged with. Like depression. And when you are both dancing that same dance it gets hard. Hard to communicate, hard to really be together. My inital reaction this time, like always is to get angry. I am such a primitive creature in relationships. I try to analyze, to listen. Unfortunately I suffer the affliction of those who can’t keep their mouth shut when made passionate. Mea Culpa. It’s not as if I don’t see or admit my own faults. I actually tackle them fairly openly. The problem with the truth is people don’t want to hear it. And yet I feel the truth doesn’t care.

I realized this week in the midst of scheduling my bone density scan, my genetic testing for a new hereditary allele, a visit to my PCP and one to the gynecologist..(you see what my week looks like) that this hasn’t ended. Just like it hasn’t ended with M. because I am still in love with him. We had dinner and there is so much still there. Despite my faults, his faults, it’s hard to forget about someone who saw you at the BOTTOM and loved you through it. I mean really the bottom. It’s hard to be judged on 2 years more difficult that most people face in a lifetime. It’s not an excuse. It’s reality. That I recently had cancer and it could come back. And that I’m in love with M. and he might not come back. No matter what I do. We are still talking and taking it slow but I know there are no guarantees. No wonder I feel out of control.

It’s really the same letting go that has to take place to be happy. My happiness depends on putting my faith into the fact that this relationship will work out if it’s supposed to. And that it won’t work out if it’s not supposed to. And that either way I will be need to be focused on being happy.

Post cancer treatment and relationships are like a desert. Where I walk for miles looking for a landmark, something to guide my way. Am I eating the right things? Am I being unreasonable with my expectations in this relationship? It’s all doubt. For me living a healthy happy life and relationships are the same problem.  There’s no map, No footprints. No role models. Just statistics and vauge reassurance at increasingly distant intervals. No wonder I have anxiety.

Back to Golf. A metaphor I prefer because it’s so much like life. And way more scenic. You can spend your whole game talking about the shot you should have made. Or why things are bad because of where you lie. But the truth is that you can only play the ball where it lies. Golf presents you with a set of situations and you react to them. Just like life.  So I am going to stop being sad because the life I imagined I would have is better than where I am. That I’d be happily married and not worried I am going to die alone. These are realities but there comes a time where you have to accept that’s where your ball is.  It’s unproductive and counter intuitive to think any other way.

Play the game from where you are because that’s the game that will make you happy.

It was like a frigging lightning bolt or the voice of God  the other day. I realized all the crap stuff I have to do with my kids when I am exhausted because I have no help, there is joy in it. If I look for it.  The smallest achievements at work are something to celebrate because two years ago I could barely climb the stairs. No party being thrown except the one I throw for myself in my head. Perspective. I play the game from where I lie,  the best I can every day. My happiness depends on it.  I am keeping score and it matters. Everyone focuses on their own score card and there are no ribbons or awards ceremonies for handling tough situations well.

There is a subtle urgency to life now I notice that other people seem not to feel. I feel like it makes me try to live my time better. Or maybe it’s PTSD.


Send lawyers, guns and money

26 08 2012

After nearly a year and a half, the insurance company of the man who ran me down in a cross walk is finally going to acknowlege that I may in fact be owed something. His clients actions cost me my job, my mobility and a large chunk of flesh where my left eyebrow used to be. Those are the things that show outwardly. What they won’t be able to assign a numerical value to is the flashbacks to the accident, the moment when my face hit the hood of his car, right about where the windshield wipers sat, waiting to carve my face into slices that the surgeons at BI spent 6 hours trying to close up. I remember them discussing above me in my confused and blinded condition that I may lose my left eye. It seemed unreal and cloudy through the haze of concussion. But that would pale in comparison to the revelation of the MRI. That I had breast cancer. And everything went in the backseat to treat that first. They won’t be able to assign a numerical  value to the months of horrified looks from the people around me reacting to the gory horror movie makeup that wasn’t fake. That even still I find people studying that twisted tangle of scarring all around my eye when they talk to me. And that I must learn to accept it all. Or harder still, move on from it.

So now that I am well enough to entertain the discussion of yet MORE SURGERY, it’s going to be on my face this time. I am looking forward to them fixing what I no-so-affectionately call my monster eye. The inward scars will never go away. I have an ankle that will never work quite right again because of the weight of the car travelling down the lower length of my leg, trapping me underneath, helpless to do anything but scream out in pain.  I will always remember the cruelty of how people treated me in public while my terrible facial injury healed. One woman even approached me in a restaurant and suggested that I cover up my disgusting eye so that she could eat.

So I learned that we live in a society where people care very little. They don’t take responsibility for swerving around two cars because they didn’t feel like stopping and changing my life forever. In that moment another person robbed me of my security, my prosperity, my beauty, my health and even though a year and a half has passed, I have not been compensated in any way other than having these experiences to learn from. To learn that most people want to blame the victim, whether it’s a cut on your face or a tumor in your chest, I must somehow be at fault. That my negativity or anger has brought me to this place where I cashed in my karmic chips somewhere in the middle of the Arborway. It’s easy to say when it isn’t you how you would handle the months of uncertainty. “Please. Tell me how YOU would have handled it”, I think to myself when people tell me I have no right to be angry.  And in the meantime the lawyers will decide how much is fair to give someone who will never be the same.

July 13 blues

12 07 2012

Sixteen years ago tomorrow I was the bride. We had a tent reception and Hurricane Bertha was my uninvited guest. Tomorrow I am having my second surgery in reconstruction from Breast Cancer, and approaching the third anniversary of my divorce.  I am having my tissue expanders removed and silicone implants put in. You’d think they were ripping my heart out and replacing that because all I can do it cry.

I pray to Saint Peregrine all the time. He healed himself with patience. A thing I lack completely in every aspect of my life. I think about you Saint Peregrine, every day. And how I can be more like you in the absence of virtues like patience and often gratitude.

The problem is that I mourn for the person I used to be. I was independent and confident. Now I am forced to be dependent and afraid. I don’t know if I will ever be able to live again with the fear that cancer has brought to my life. I am not who I was. I mourn this every day and no amount of crying can make it better.

I hope tomorrow is a step towards feeling more whole. More Myself. Because this person is a stranger. A weepy stranger with weird boobies.

Happy Cancerversary to Me

7 03 2012

I have been rolling this post around in my mind, like a smooth stone at the water’s edge. Back and forth I go, wondering whether this is a post of anger or celebration. Angry because when I look back at what I have been through I see how changed I am by the experience. No longer the same. Celebratory because some people are not as lucky as I to even have a first Cancerversary to celebrate. Let me explain.

My story actually starts a few days before, March 19, 2011 to be exact. It was Saturday and just starting to feel like spring when I was hit by a car walking home from dinner with my boyfriend. I received 250 stitches in my left eye, two orbital fractures, a broken pinkie finger, lacerations all over my face and legs, and a right ankle fractured and sprained in 5 directions and a pretty substantial concussion that knocked me out cold. I was transported to the hospital and something amazing happened. The radiologist assigned the task of looking at my internal organs to make sure they weren’t imjured noticed something in my chest. At first they thought it was fluid in my lungs but upon closer inspection it was revealed to be a solid mass. I was referred to a Women’s Imaging Center on March 22, 2011 for testing.

The following day I had a mammogram, a needle biopsy and an MRI. I remember being so sore from being hit by the car there was some doubt about my ability to actually lay face down in the MRI machine. I did it, and the technician told me that I might be the toughest woman she ever met. At that point there was still hope that it would be nothing, but as the hours ticked by I knew it was something. Then at 10 AM on March 24, 2011 I got the phone call that changed everything. That I had Breast Cancer. I sat on the floor and cried in the dark of my bedroom.

The next several weeks were a flurry of appointments to determine whether I would be able to even begin treatment. There’s not a lot of literature on patients with severe head and crush injuries starting chemotherapy. I hope that I have provided some information to the medical literature on this topic because doctors were in a quandry half the time. Do they put me on blood thinners? Would I be able to take the general anesthesia to install the port in my chest? Way too many questions when I was completely unprepared to handle them. That first month of chemo is a haze, because of my head injury and the secondary insult of cytotoxic drugs.

One of the things that people should know about cancer treatment is that it’s really impossible to plan for all the changes that are about to take place. All the unexpected turns that the path can take. When you stand at the entrance of the dark scary forest of treatment it seems like a pretty direct path to the other side. However as you get closer to the end you realize that the winding isn’t stopping and that there are really no areas of your life left that cancer hasn’t touched in some way. I was really lucky to have what they call a “good response” to chemotherapy, meaning that it shrank my 5.1 cm tumor down to about 1.5 cm prior to surgery. I elected to do the chemotherapy first so that the possibility of getting a good margin on the surgery would be increased. This “good” response also included numbess in my hands and feet, weird space out sessions, paranoia, memory problems, gained 33 pounds and all my hair, eyebrows and eyelashes fell out. This is where I got to investigate Unexpected Cancer Door #1: people’s reactions to your appearance. I could write an entire book on how much this experience effected me. Most days I am proud to say I handled it with humor and grace. Some days I didn’t and for everyone who had to listen to me sob when I wasn’t recognized in public because of my drastic change in appearance, I’m sorry.

After 8 rounds of chemotherapy I got the month of August off to prepare for surgery. I had a double mastectomy on September 6, 2011. I elected to have a double mastectomy based on my family history and my desire for an even reconstructive appearance. When they performed my mastectomies, they implanted tissue expanders to gradually stretch my skin to create a pocket for the future implants in a later surgery. If this sounds a bit like medieval torture, it is. Amazing what the body can do.  Little did I know this was Unexpected Cancer Door #2: How suddenly having a couple of body parts removed changes everything. I mean I knew it was going to be rough, but there’s really no preparation you can do for that first time in the mirror. It took me about 2 months before I could take a shower without crying because of how my body looked. But I am moving on, learning to love the new me. My reconstruction is going well, I am blessed to have one of the best surgeons in the country and I am fortunate to be a candidate for it at all.

I started radiation treatment on October 1, 2011. I have to say that radiation was by far the most difficult part of my treatment. Maybe it’s the insult of dots being permanantly tattooed on my body, so they can line me up accurately on the machine each time. Maybe it’s the fact that all the techs told me not to worry and then closed a 10,000 pound metal door between us. Maybe because by the end it was nearly impossible to lay there when my skin was already blistered and broken. Maybe because it made my armpit and ribs stiff and brittle and sore. But I hated radiation. It made changes in me I could feel happening. That I can still feel happening. And that’s Unexpected Cancer Door #3: That treatment isn’t the end. Cancerversarys aren’t the end. Good lab results aren’t the end. Yet there is something to celebrate, whatever beautiful life there is to be lived. We are all changed by experiences. The entire course of my life changed in the middle of the road. It’s finding out if you’re the kind of person that can enjoy the scenery on the detours that is the hard part.

Insult to Injury

15 02 2012

Today is the six week mark since I finished radiation treatment, the last event in the triathalon from hell. They told me that it would likely take about 8 weeks to start feeling better again, but I feel like I am on the upswing. Now that the fog of crushing exhaustion is lifting, my mind turns to the damage done in the name of treatment.

Most Breast Cancer patients have really limited mobility on the treatment side after radiation. I was lucky enough to have pushed myself really hard (typical of me) in the first weeks following surgery, so I wan’t required to attend the weeks and weeks of PT that most patients go through. I joked with my surgeon that having the water glasses nearly out of reach on the high second shelf in my kitchen was my secret to homemade physical therapy. But that wasn’t far from the truth. The reality of it is that everything you do after treatment reminds you of what your body just went through. The weird, twisting, internal pain that is a sign of the thickening muscle fiber and the scar tissue is never far from my mind as I try to go about life normally. The weakness and heaviness in my left arm is a constant reminder of the lymphatic issues I have after the removal of two of my nodes on that side. The worry that every cut on that side of my body could lead to an infection I may not be able to fight off.

As I bathe, my hands pass across the parts that are scarred and hardened from treatment. I imagine the soap penetrating my skin, washing away all the horrible insults of radiation burns. Everyday I stretch, imagining that the damage can be lessened with moisturizers, massage and yoga; hoping that years down the road my flexibility is not compromized by the treatment that hopefully will be my last. Because of the location of my tumor, a portion of my heart was to be in the field as well. They set up blocks to protect it, and I can’t help but think of this as a metaphor for my life post-treatment.

It’s hard to return to “regular life” after treatment. People ask if you are “cured” and you have to explain to them that you won’t know until you live 10 years, their faces twisting because the answer makes them uncomfortable. They want to hear that everything is just fine. Running into people who shunned you during treatment, because your appearance and diagnosis were just too much for them to handle. In the post-treatment world this may be my biggest challenge: How to allow someone you were once close to back into your life after they ignored you when you needed them most. I feel like this is the part of treatment that hardened my heart, not the radiation. I want to be gracious, I want to be above it. I also want them to know how much it hurt me and that I may never be able to get over it.

So I stretch and I set up my own blocks to protect my heart by controlling my contact with people who were once family, friends and relatives.  Each day, my muscles, my soul and every fiber of my being. Reaching. Reaching for normal.

February 10, 2012

A Letter to Stupid Cancer: Worst Roomate Ever

6 01 2012

You moved in March 24, 2011. That was the day that I dropped the phone and cried in the dark. I vowed that I would not let you change my life, but despite my efforts to defend myself from this new room mate that I never asked for you took away plenty. So to mark the completion of my treatment and hopefully your complete eviction from my life on December 1, 2011 I have compiled a list of things about you I will not miss:

1. I will not miss the weird haze of chemotherapy. It reminded me of the Viewmaster Viewer Negatives of the 70’s. I began to think I was seeing the opposite side of life, where people’s images were much lighter than the world around them. I don’t know how to describe it but it was disturbing. Let’s include the creepy space out sessions, memory loss and confusion as well as the numbness in my hands and feet. None of that is fun.

2. I will not miss taking enough steroids and benedryl to choke a horse and put it to sleep. Then you wonder why I gained 33 pounds. Um. Cause you’re messing with me!

3. I will not miss how you tore my self image to the ground and stomped on my sexuality. I am tending this garden daily now to hopefully repair whatever remains whole, hopefully to blossom again when reconstruction is done. But there aren’t words to describe how many tears I have shed because of the insecurities and fears that you replaced my hopes and dreams with.

4. I will not miss the feelings of rejection and lonliness. Its hard to describe the scope of this and how it impacts you every moment of every day until you have lived through treatment.

5. I will not miss how after the insult of surgery and reconstruction I couldn’t sleep. Then when I started to feel better radiation started. It was a race between who would be cooked first me or my left breast. I won by a nose.

6. But most of all I will not miss how even though you moved out in September when I had surgery,  some radiation to make sure you didn’t leave anything behind in November. Your lease to my life was up December 1, 2011. Yet I am still consumed with worry and fear in the horrible wake you have left behind. I know I will get over this too. I have proved to be that strong.

I never invited you into my life and I hope you never return. It’s as simple as that. I am putting you in my past. Goodbye Stupid Cancer. Please….

Grumbling Away

3 11 2011

I decided several weeks ago that I wouldn’t talk about pinkwashing when October was over. I spent all month ranting about it, but then yesterday there was a press release so heinous from Nancy Brinker of the Komen Foundation, I am driven to spend my precious mental energy being inflamed about what she said. Read the article here.

There are a number of us who write cancer-oriented blogs that found her reference to questions about Komen’s expenditures as “grumblings” incredibly insulting. It’s absurd the mentality this organization is taking. They seek to alienate the very group they insist they advocate for. When only 19% of the money they take in as donations actually is earmarked for cancer research, I think people have a right to question this. The hostile attitude they take when faced with real numbers should be a huge red flag to the fact that Komen is being run as a business. Name another non-profit organization so consumed with it’s own image that it sues smaller organizations that seek to use certain phrases in their literature. What a waste of time and money. Meanwhile in 2011 there will be 40,000 women that die from Metastic Breast Cancer in the United States alone.

If this isn’t seeing the forest for the trees I don’t know what is. Nancy Brinker would rather argue semantics than actually use the donations to help real cancer patients. When I was first diagnosed I called Komen to try and get help because their website says that they provide financial assistance for patients currently in treatment. The phone number given is never answered and there’s no answering machine. I called about 30 times and finally gave up. That’s the kind of support that Komen gives. My experience is not an isolated one, as I read a blog yesterday from Cancerfree2b (please hover over her name to read this terrific blog post) that so closely mirrors my own experience that I was brought back to the raw emotion I felt in the early days of treatment. Scared, bewildered, worried and isolated, wondering why this agency that so COMPLETELY dominates the media surrounding Breast Cancer Awareness couldn’t be bothered to answer the phone for the people who justify it’s existence.

Maybe I wouldn’t mind so much if I felt like I could get away from it, but the way they are everywhere in the media, I can’t read a magazine in the waiting room of the oncology office without looking at a picture of their stupid PROMISE ME perfume. This is retailing for $80 and less than $5 of that will go to research. It’s also loaded with known carcinogens. There are a growing number of people that are asking, no BEGGING Komen to take a look at their product affiliations. We are all AWARE of Breast Cancer, Nancy Brinker. Now it’s time to take Komen’s mission to the next level, which is addressing a very simple question:

How come we don’t know why normal cells turn cancerous in the first place?

There’s no amount of makeup, toilet paper, fried chicken, yogurt or cleaning products that you can slap that pink ribbon on that will answer this question. So this growing tide of “grumblers”, as you refer to us so dismissively, would like to know when does Komen plan to address this? And additionally when will they start to include the discussion of Metastic Breast Cancer in their literature? Don’t continue to patronize us with cutesy slogans and campaigns. Don’t continue to promote products that are contributors to known cancer risk. It literally makes me sick. You say that your research shows that most people like the Pink Movement, but how many of these people know where the money goes? They are happy to donate in the memory of loved ones who fight and those who continue to fight. They feel duped as a result of your mismanagement of funds and lack of support to those being treated. I look forward to a day where this organization is steered in the right direction or taken down at the knees, ending their fake, marketing driven advocacy. I will proudly “grumble” until this happens.

Let’s (Not) Make a Deal

21 10 2011

It’s hard to say what the most difficult part of Cancer is. I think it really depends on what day it is. Some days, especially in the month of October, the idea of avoiding all the fluffy, pink reminders of so-called “Breast Cancer Awareness” might top the list. Negotiating my daily life with enough reminders of my illness like medications I have to take, appointments to be kept, and hyper vigilance about my health make me think that having to look at that pink ribbon everywhere in the media is just too much. I’m aware. Believe me. Check out this article if you are unaware of the ridiculous nature of pinkwashing and why so many women with Breast Cancer are annoyed with it.

Maybe it’s the crushing isolation that comes with treatment? They warned me about the isolation when I had my first Oncology teach. That day is 4 hours of meeting with doctors while they go over everything associated with your upcoming treatment. Let me say that this is about 3 hours more than a newly diagnosed patient can handle, and you hear so many scary things that day; from the discussion of reactions to anesthesia, to side effects of the chemotherapy, to what can go wrong with your reconstruction. So when they tell you that it is almost certain there will be some attrition in the ranks of your friends and family it really sounds minor. I remember thinking “Yah ok, I got that covered.” But in the next couple of months it would become the part I struggled with most, as my appearance changed so drastically that people I knew no longer recognized me. Knowing what I know about Anthropology, it’s natural for people to shrink away from someone who looks sick. In the days before medicine, it was how people stayed healthy. But that knowlege about human nature didn’t make it any easier when I noticed people recoiling from me if they hadn’t seen me in a few months. Afraid to touch me, afraid to hug me as if they could catch Breast Cancer by contact.

But there’s a new contender on the scene for the title of “The Hardest Part of Cancer”. And that is maintaining a relationship with my own sexuality. Cancer has really done everything it could to stomp on mine. It started with the mega doses of steroids to boost my immune system that caused me to gain 22 pounds. All of a sudden, practically overnight, none of my clothes fit right and I felt thick and sluggish. Then the chemical menopause set in and monthly signs of earlier femininity disappear, a wake up call that the bags they were hanging for me were taking their toll on my system. I never thought I would miss that, but let me tell you it beats hot flashes. Then came the surgery, in my case a bilateral mastectomy that would leave me with scars that make my breasts look like something out of a Tim Burton film. Jack Boobington, my boyfriend and I joked as I got used to looking at myself with no nipples. I am sure it took time for him too, although he was so sweet the first time he saw me after the surgery. He told me that I built it up to be much more horrible than it really was. I wanted to believe him.

I am a stranger in a new strange land. The uncharted territory of post cancer sexuality. The overwhelming need for things to seem normal in a sense, where contact with others is warm and reassuring after a long week of being handled by clinicians. The desire to be touched and viewed as something other than a patient sneaks up. Cancer is the thief in the night that is always looking to take another part of “normal” away. I suppose resisting that is a long road and doesn’t happen overnight. I get glimpses of my former self, now that the steroids are leaving my system my body is changing once again. I have hair, eyebrows and eyelashes so I don’t look so much like Golum. And I am getting used to the (re)construction zone that is my body. Baby steps were never so small.

It’s my hope that each of these pieces resolves itself in time as I move from event to event in this hellish triathlon. I already see myself clearing some of the hurdles. Every day becomes less of a game show where new fears are revealed behind Door #1, Door #2 or Door #3. I try to focus on the Grand Prize, walking away from this a whole person who understands myself and other people a whole lot better.

Cancer is the gameshow where all the choices suck

Pink Platitudes

6 10 2011

Pinktober is in full swing and I frankly can’t wait for November 1st. Between all the pinkwashing by companies like Panera Bread, who donate TEN CENTS of every bagel to “Cancer Organizations” instead 100% of the profit like they should and the media coverage of Steve Jobs’ death it’s hard to escape the uninvited guest of Cancer to every hour of the day. I can’t even watch late night TV without thinking about it.

It occurred to me last night after a particularly insensitive remark was made on someone’s Facebook page in response to Steve Jobs’ death about “death being part of life” that we are spoon fed these ridiculous clichés by the media. I can only explain it like this: My life has become like a horse race. I am now given odds on “finishing the race” and they are known odds with a good amount of statistics behind them so it’s a fairly accurate number. It’s 86% to live 10 years. Sounds like pretty good odds, right? Better than the ones you get on any sports bet or table in Vegas. What’s the problem right?

Well when you are faced with the very real possibility you could end up in the 14% it doesn’t seem that great now does it. It doesn’t matter if it’s 1% if you’re the one, now does it. This is the reality that we all live under, but it’s just that people with cancer confront that every day. I imagine the percentage that regular people have as an invisible number. The lack of awareness of it doesn’t make it real. But once you have had a doctor sit across from you and say you have Cancer, it kind of pulls back the veil on a really ugly truth. The truth that people die from Cancer every day. People who are good, and talented, generous and brave, angry and accepting. It doesn’t matter. That’s the cruelty of cancer. It’s arbitrary in some sense which side of the 86% pasture’s fence you end up on. There are things that improve your chances, but even they are no guarantee.

So please don’t stand in front of me discussing your  hippie touchy feely “Circle of Life” theories about mortality. I face the reality of it every day. I lay awake at night thinking about it. My children probably do too.  When you have an invisible number on your horse race, it’s easy to wax philosophical about how things have a beginning, a middle and an end. As someone who likes to think I am still in the middle I would rather think about the race that is ahead. It reminds me of the saying “you don’t have to be faster than the bear, you have to be faster than the slowest camper.” Don’t force me to listen to your hokey platitudes while the bear’s breath is on the back of my neck. I feel like every day I gain a little more ground on him and hopefully pass the 14% of the campers that will get eaten.

When your eight year old asks you at bedtime if you’re going to die, then you earn the right to discuss the topic with some credibility. Until then keep you clichés to yourself and keep buying your pink bagels instead of donating directly to research organization and telling yourself you’re helping someone. That someone is driving an Audi A8 and works for Panera and probably doesn’t understand cancer either.