January 28, 2002
The Real World of Breast Cancer
Nancy Chinn (Rasa Lila)
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and we will all see lots of pretty pink ribbons and happy smiling faces of those who go regularly to get their mammograms or survivors who caught the beast early and are now cured.
I was originally diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995. I am now dealing with Stage IV of the disease, the stage that is considered incurable. But the sad thing is that there is no cure for breast cancer at all. Yes, the statistics are better for someone who got it at an early stage but even then, it can always come back and often does. Once you get a diagnosis of breast cancer, even if you get the most aggressive treatment, the threat of recurrence will forever hang over your head. And although it was once a disease that mostly attacked elderly women, now younger and younger women are getting it.
I would like to somehow introduce you to the world of breast cancer-the real world of breast cancer, not the sugar coated pink ribbon world. The horror of diagnosis with the realization that never again will you know when it can strike you down. The tears of the young woman who has just given birth to her first child and doesn't know if that child will even remember her because the child will be too young when the mother dies. The dread of treatment - of amputation of the breast that should be used to nurture babies. The overall feeling of unwellness that consumes the body upon taking chemotherapy, the tremendous fatigue, the nausea, the depression. The bone crushing exhaustion that ensues after radiation, the burns that turn the skin into an open wound. The hormonal treatment that shifts a young vital body into immediate menopause with anxiety, insomnia, hot flashes, and of course sterility. The fear that comes from never knowing where the cancer will pop up next - will it strike the bones, the liver, the lungs, the brain?? It can in fact go anywhere and I've known women with it in their eyes, in their ovaries, etc.
It's just NOT a pink ribbon disease. No two ways about it. Many doctors observe that breast cancer patients are too nice and that's one reason why more and better treatment is not available after all these years. We just don't complain enough or loudly enough. I see this too. I see the suffering but masked with a pleasant smile and polite thanks. I see the wigs that cover the baldness that is a result of the chemotherapy. And the prostheses that cover the amputated breasts. And there are many workshops that show the ghostly pale and haggard looking patients how to apply makeup and scarves etc so that they too can look good.
Forty five thousand people a year die of this disease. Forty five thousand!! Forty five thousand women and men (yes, men too die from breast cancer) who are mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, brothers and sisters, and friends. It's a constant war going on and we're losing, losing, losing.
The media periodically enthusiastically announces a new potential cure but in reality little has changed in the last hundred years in the treatment of breast cancer. And the new treatments at best offer an advantage of a few months more life often at the loss of any quality of life. We need money to go to fresh innovative minds who are willing to look in new directions for treatment.
Please help us. Please be the voice that too many of us are too weak to raise.
Nancy Chinn (Rasa Lila)
October 2, 2000
Nancy Chinn (Rasa Lila) My dearest sister Rasa lila (aka Nancy Chinn) died peacefully today, February 14, 2002, surrounded by loving tender devotion and thinking of her dear Lord. Please say a prayer for her. Thank everyone of you who were her friend and support during the last few years. It was so helpful to her, and she thought so much of all of you. Bless all of you in your own helpful to her, and she thought so much of all of you. Bless all of you in your own battle, and may you all know love and peace. Sue