When something 'bad' happens to us, we often second-guess the reasons. Eight years ago, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, the first thing I did was start beating myself up. I must have 'caused' this disease myself. In my mind, I went over a litany of things I could have done wrong, a list that escalated as I learned more and more about the disease.
Being diagnosed with any disease or illness is life altering. It is normal to experience a wide range of emotions and thought processes as the news settles in. For the incredible women highlighted in this post, being diagnosed with breast cancer changed their lives forever, and in ways they could not imagine.
My father was murdered in a bootlegging turf war with the mafia. Although it wasn't cancer that killed him, my family felt the same secrecy, disgrace, and guilt. Like cancer, it was the death that had no name. Like cancer, my mother never acknowledged my father's death. Not once. Not in her entire life. He was our cancer.
No one knows exactly if your cancer will kill you sooner, or later, or not at all. There is the often broken five-year test of time, there are statistics and prognoses and studies, there are oncologists, radiologists, surgeons, and social workers; there are articles in the New York Times and the New England Journal of Medicine that often contradict each other.