Monday, May 17, 2010

I've been thinking this week about all the women from my highschool and college years who have had cancer. In my family, it's not a question of "If" I get cancer but "When". My mother, her sister, their mother, my father's mother and any assortment of aunts and cousins have all had one form of cancer or another. Every year, after another clean mammogram and PAP smear I think "Hah! you Bastard, you missed me for another year!"

I suppose I think of Cancer in sort of the reverse of how my Christian fundamentalist friends think of Jesus. I remember them telling me that they consider their actions because "If Jesus shows up, I want to be sure he'll be pleased with what I'm doing".

Lately, as I've been running or swimming I think "If Cancer shows up today, do I want him to find me walking? Or shoving that big muffin in my face?" I know that if I'm genetically predisposed to have cancer, it's not likely that all the exercise, good eating and good deeds I do are going to keep me from it. But we do know that cancer is linked to unhealthy weight and sedentary lifestyle. And, as my doctor once so breezily said in response to my concerns about cancer "Oh, you're much more likely to die of heart disease at this point in your life" (They teach that bedside manner in schools, I think).

If cancer shows up in July, my plan is that he'll look for me in the lake just as I'm getting onto my bike. And when he jumps on his super-fast carbon alloy bike, I'll be racking up mine and taking off the run. And if that Bastard makes it to the finish line I'm sure hoping he'll be moved by my accomplishments and maybe sit that one out.

Cancer, if you're listening, this Saturday I'll be running with a bunch of terrific people. Every step I take I'll be picturing you being ground into the sidewalk. Why not just take a vacation for a little bit? you're looking a little tired.


  1. Great attitude, Sarah! I have similar feelings about heart disease... 5 of my aunts and uncles have had heart attacks at a young age and my Mom had a stroke when she was 45... I went through way too much time when I felt like I was doomed so it didn't matter how well I took care of myself. My kiddos gave me the attitude adjustment I needed :) and if I ever need another pep talk I'll check out this post. Thanks!


  2. Don't read this until tomorrow!!
    I have an extremely strong history of heart disease. My mom is the second oldest of eight kids. Every one of them has had at least one heart attack and/or stroke. Her father was the first person ever to have nearly all of his major arteries and blood vessels replaced with plastic tubing and live. My father just had triple bypass and has had three heart attacks that I know of.

    My only consolation is that I come from a very sedentary family lineage and I am anything but. I'm not the fitness nazi you are (in truth, you both inspire and frighten me) but I do stay active.

    Let's take this one step at a time but, no matter how things work out (or don't) maybe I'll try to let you inspire me more than frighten me.