Monday, February 3, 2014
When Beth was only 27 years old she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy and the whole nine yards of 1980's style chemotherapy.
At the time, we couldn't understand how one so young could "just get" this terrible disease.
Her doctor's shook their heads and basically said "Sometimes bad stuff just happens".
None of us had ever heard of hereditary cancer, let alone the brca gene.
Breast cancer was something you would hear about in passing. Quietly whispered about amongst your older aunts, grandmothers, and their friends. Always about someone much older. Someone who had raised their children.
Someone who had lived their life.
A disease of old women.
An abstract idea.
Being both young and strong, Beth recovered and went on with her life of being a loving mother, wife, best friend, daughter, sister, and all of the 100 and 1 other things that made her loved, and beloved to everyone who knew her. When she passed the 5 year mark without a recurrence I think we all breathed a sigh of relief,
because 5 years is the goal that the medical community always touted as being the "cured" milestone.
A realistic target to aim for. Something measurable and concrete.
As the years passed and birthdays came and went,
Beth's ordeal slowly receded to the back of our minds.
Like most bad experiences, it became something we didn't dwell on,
if we thought of it at all.
At age 48 the cancer came back in her other breast.
Too late came the knowledge of the brca gene and what it meant.
This recurrence was aggressive and relentless. Another mastectomy. More chemo.
We blinked and Beth was gone.
Her birthday is this month. Ironically, it is also the month of her death.
She would have been 53.
She should have been 53.
And so much more.