October, as well as being when we indulge in all things inky, is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It's the most common cancer in women and - depending on detection time, your age, your history and sometimes just plain luck - it has varying rates of survival. The good news is that over 25% of breast cancers are preventable, and as we all know, prevention is better than cure. If we all know what to do, we stand a good chance of either never getting it, or - if we do succumb - coming safely (if a little battered) through to the other side. And spreading awareness is one of our weapons.
Some time ago, back in the mists of time (actually no, it wasn't that long ago: more like the early 2000s) I was diagnosed with a type of breast cancer that was unusual in that it had two qualities: a) it would almost certainly mean curtains for me if it went untreated and b) it was to all intents and purposes curable (as opposed to just survivable). It was found quite by accident, as it hadn't got to the stage where it was detectable as a lump, and in theory - if I hadn't been made aware of it - I could have lived out the rest of my life with it just sitting there and doing no harm. I could have. But - because of my age (yes! I was young!) - it was far more probable that it would make itself known pretty soon and start laying about the place with a metaphorical baseball bat. I had three little girls, a husband, a dog and a goldfish, all of whom would almost certainly not survive without me, as I was the only one who could cook. So it was imperative to go for the cure, despite the scars (interesting), the hospital food (bearable) and being banned from driving for six weeks (torture). Thanks to the most excellent NHS, plus the support of family, friends and workmates, it was only the goldfish that did not survive. And that was probably more to do with those three little girls than anything else.
Cancer touches all of us. You'll either have a brush with it yourself, or you'll know somebody, or of somebody who's affected. Many will survive, a lucky number will survive long enough to be considered cured, but some won't make it. The important thing is to accept it for what it is, and then deal with it the best you can.
6 October 2020