Tuesday, January 29, 2008

In Support of Susan

It's hard to browse the mommy blogs these days without running into a pretty pink Team WhyMommy banner or a post in support of Susan, a thirty-something mom who is battling inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) -- a very nasty form of the disease.

I've never met Susan, but in many ways, I feel I know her well. Fifteen years ago this month (wow, has it been that long?), I was diagnosed with stage IV Hodgkins disease. Of course Hodgkins disease is alot different than IBC. Even at stage IV, I had a pretty good prognosis and my doctors kept telling me that I had a "good" kind of cancer ("If you have to get cancer, this is the kind you want to get!" quipped one unhelpful doctor. Ummm, I'll take no cancer, thank you.) But even so, because of my late stage diagnosis, my situation was serious and, like Susan, I had to endure chemo, hair loss and all the indignities that come with being a cancer patient.

I've been checking in on Susan's blog every now and then and sometimes it can be tough for me to read. Some of her posts time warp me right back to 15 years ago. And in some ways, Susan's experience represents my deepest, darkest fear -- having a relapse while my kids are still young. Going through the cancer thing was tough enough the first time around without the responsibility of raising kids. I can't imagine doing it with prying eyes, constant questions and all that uncertainty -- uncertainty of how your body will feel and function each day not to mention the uncertainty of what the future may hold.

But Susan's blog also reminds me of the unexpected and extraordinary gifts that cancer can bring. The hundreds of supporters that Susan has gained through the blogosphere reminds me of the letters, cards and phone calls (back in the olden days when people relied on snail mail and telephones) that I got from what seemed like everyone I ever knew. The moral support is truly the best medicine and the sincere gratitude that Susan often expresses for the overwhelming support of friends and strangers alike always brings tears to my eyes. I know how much strength she draws from that love to pull her through the rough stuff.

I haven't written about my cancer experience until now because that's not what this blog is about. But I wanted to take a time out and, although I'm a little late to the game, I'd like to offer my support and join Team WhyMommy. If I do have a relapse (god forbid), I'd want to do it just like Susan -- with dignity, determination, humor and raw honesty.

Susan offers some great ways to get involved in the cancer cause on her blog. But if you're lazy like me, check out this site. You can sign up to advocate for increased cancer research funding (the government is by far the largest source of cancer research funds) and increased funds for the CDC's program that offers free mammograms for uninsured and low income women all from the comfort of your own home.

Best of luck on your latest path report, Susan, and for a smooth and uneventful removal of those drains.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Amy, this was lovely! I didn't know you were a cancer survivor too ... there are far too many of us who have been hurt by cancer.

Amy S. said...

Definitely, Susan. Way too many.