Believe it or not, I don’t always blog everything right away. Some stories, for whatever reason, just need to age a bit before they’re ready to be told. Or is that fester? I guess it depends upon the subject matter. So, in spite of the fact that I actually do have a newer story, you’re going to get an older one. Because I’m feeling like telling it now.
About a year and a half or so ago, when my hair was short enough that it was pretty obvious that I’d recently finished chemo, Susie and I went to a dinner together. This particular dinner was a fundraiser for the local Right to Life association, which another friend of ours is heavily involved in.
We were seated at a table with our friend and a few other people. Introductions were made and our friend told the folks at our table that I was a breast cancer survivor. They asked me some questions about my treatment, and we made some general small talk before the meal. No big deal. Dinner was served, and our friend got up to introduce the guest speaker. The speaker’s claim to fame was that she was Malcolm X’s dog groomer’s niece. Or maybe she was the uncle’s 3rd cousin’s step-daughter of another famous figure of the civil rights movement. (Something like that. I don’t remember exactly—chemo brain, you know.) And she’d had an abortion when she was younger.
So, there we sat as this lady spoke about all the reasons why it’s a bad idea to have an abortion. All the things you’d expect to hear were in there, spoken about and projected in a Power Point presentation containing neatly arranged bulleted lists. And all was well until she got to the part where she announced that a big reason not to have an abortion was because it causes breast cancer.
Yeah, she really did say that. And lest any of us not hear her right, there it was on that bulleted list. So meanwhile, there I sit trying to keep my cool, feeling as if there is now this ginormous spotlight shining down on me, thinking, “Great, now all these folks at my table are saying to themselves, ‘Oh, so THAT’S why she got The Cancer.’” That’s just fabulous lady, thanks a lot. Hey, how about next time you make up some random scary thing to try to make your point you pick another malady? Like maybe The Gout or The Hammer Toe. Cancer girls have got enough stress already.
Gee, if only breast cancer prevention were that easy, right? Don’t want cancer, don’t have an abortion. And, seriously, that was what this lady was saying—if you have an abortion, you will get breast cancer. Of course, the fact that she didn’t have breast cancer, and therefore disproved her own theory, seemed to completely elude her. Which somehow didn’t surprise me in the least.
Sure, it doesn’t make any sense, but you know how that goes—if you say it enough, or if, God forbid, it ends up on the internet, then some people will start to believe it. You know, we cancer girls already have to put up with our share of “well, what did you do that caused this” crap. Do you smoke? Do you wear deodorant? What do you eat? We get all those ignorant questions and more. Do we really need to have the abortion question thrown in there, too? Or worse yet, not the spoken question, but the unspoken assumption?
Listen up—I didn’t DO anything to cause The Cancer. My friend Tanya didn’t DO anything to get The Cancer. My girls Nina and Shirley didn’t somehow bring The Cancer on themselves. Folks, it just IS. Some things don’t have easy explanations. You know, I wish there were a list of things to avoid that if adhered to, would guarantee you’ll never get The Cancer. Avoid circus peanuts, abortions, tobacco, and Hot Pockets and you’ll always be cancer-free. Make sure to eat three rum-soaked raisins, do yoga, wear garments made of a 50/50 blend of organic cotton and hemp, and drink a half cup of garlic steeped in hot vinegar every day and you’ll be invincible.
But there’s not a list like that. And that’s why it’s important to get your mammos and do those self-exams. A Hot Pocket-free life won’t save you, but vigilance just might.