Monday, January 29, 2007


My father's cousin is dying. He was having severe pain in his shoulder and they found a huge cancerous mass in it--along with cancer in his bones and lungs. Of course he is seeking a second opinion and treatment but the initial estimate is he has less than six months to live. He is in his early forties, has young children and is the backbone of his father's business. So now there is a panic mode to get his affairs in order, sell the business, find care for his parents.

There are so many kids in that family I don't know the man very well, and he is so much younger than my dad I doubt my dad feels particularly close with him either. The problem is that this is how it goes in my family. Everyone eventually gets cancer, many survive their first and even second bout with it, but in the end that is what we die of. Literally, I am not sure I can think of anyone in the family that has died of anything else.

The truth is, in a fucked up and morbid way, barring a horrifying accident I will probably die of cancer. It is bizarre to think about your body as a time bomb--the disease is there just waiting to bloom. The only cancer we had largely escaped was breast cancer. But my baby cousin has a lump on her breast, which scares me almost disproportionately. Chances are it is just a fibroid, she is only twenty-one, but I am alarmed by even the thought.

I know that my family is not unique. That this disease has ruined many families just as it is killing mine. But I am still heartbroken. And afraid. I don't know how I can help but be afraid.

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