Anyone who's tried to write, who's learned about writing, learns that the opening to a piece must have a 'hook' in it, something that grabs the reader's attention and brings them to a choice (at least as far as making a living with writing is concerned): Do I spend my extra money on this piece of writing, or on beer? Maybe that doesn't matter here, since I'm not asking you to buy this bit of doggeral. Some of you spent money for your space on LJ, some of you didn't. All of us spend time here, reading this, reading that, and after all, time is all we really have to spend. We choose to sell time to our employers for money.
There's that word again, this time as a verb, the previous time as an adverb. Choice. Choose.
In March of '92 a good friend of mine died of breast cancer three years after discovering a lump in her breast, and choices abounded in that whole process. Probably one of the most important choices I made involved being open to the lessons provided. One of those lessons involved photography because Cher asked me to teach her how to be a better photographer. The lessons weren't limited to photography, and I'm not going into them in detail because those lessons per se aren't the focus of my meanderings today. Suffice to say, both my photography, and my practice of Nursing, improved because of the choices made.
And one of the choices involved both of those, Photography and Nursing. I chose to learn a whole lot more about breast cancer, and to try to do something, no matter how slight the effort, something to advance the cause of preventing, detecting, and treating that disease. That choice led to learning a lot more about both Photography and Nursing as well, since I called the specific project my Healing Art project, and started learning more about different aspects of approaches to health care considered non-traditional in what we commonly call the West. Holistic approaches, and what might be the reasons they work.
That choice, to pursue different veins of knowledge, led to another friend approaching me when she, too, discovered a lump in her breast three years ago. chaosloki knew Cher, though not so well nor as long as I. Her sister knew Cher better, and her sister took part in my Healing Art project. For that matter, truth be told, chaosloki did too although not as a portrait subject. She gave permission for me to use her name in my public presentation on the subject.
Mostly, she demonstrated the power and importance of making choices. The power and necessity of making those choices, sometimes, quickly, with determination and without hesitation. I can live without a breast, she said, but I will die if it remains. I can live with cancer, but only if I face it and deal with it. Go read her journal; she used it as needed to deal with her cancer.
I don't know what my last memories of chaosloki will be; after all, I do use her story as part of my story in Healing Art: A Personal Journey. I know what my last images of her are. Running around at St. Benet's, schmoozing with her friends, taking part in the Gift Sharking, having fun, living.
Living, with cancer, right up to the point in time her E-ticket on the ride we call Life ended.
Breast cancer is not the number one cause of death amongst women; it's not even as prominant a killer as it once was. What many don't know is that breast cancer isn't actually exclusive by sex; in the United States something around 1,500 men discover breast cancer in themselves each year. It is predominantly a disease effecting women. It is still prevalent enough that the statistics, the 'odds', are highly in favour that every one of you reading my journal know someone, are related to someone, even are someone with breast cancer. I know for sure there are three of the latter, and no I'm not going to say who. That's their choice, not mine, and this whole diatribe is about choice.
Those same statistics, same 'odds', show us something else that's interesting. Sit back, watch a timepiece, spend a minute counting your breaths. Likely you will count something between 14 and 18 breaths in one minute, somewhat dependant on your health and how active physically you were before starting to read this. Now be thankful that during those (we'll split the difference) 16 breaths, only three people were diagnosed with breast cancer. How long did it take you to read this little diatribe? Ten minutes? Probably not, at least I don't think it's that long. But if it did, if it took you 10 minutes to read this, then meditate quietly for a moment, that in that 10 minutes, someone, somewhere, died of breast cancer.
I probably know too much about this, since I can mention those numbers.
There isn't much to do about prevention, actually. No magic vaccine. There's lots to do for early detection. Most often, in fact, lumps and lesions found in breasts using the various means are not cancer. Though they're always anxiety-raising. There's lots to do for treating, once discovered, and a huge amount of evidence that the earlier discovered, the better the outcome.
But you got to choose to discover.