Let's say you're working, raising your three kids, and sometimes bickering with your doctor-husband. You practice yoga, you run long-distance. You're even a lifelong subscriber to Prevention magazine.
You're turning 46 soon and feel ready to take a deep breath: Your oldest daughter is going off to college, you have a blossoming sophomore in high school as well as a maturing fourth grader.
And then you hear the words that will forever change your life: "Just to be safe, I think we should biopsy."
I have just finished reading brutally honest account of Gail Konop Baker's brush with breast cancer: Cancer is a Bitch: Or, I’d Rather Be Having a Midlife Crisis.
It's just out (Oct. 2008) and I have a disclaimer: Gail and I were fellow columnists at Literary Mama and I'd followed her Bare Breasted Mama column since its first post.
Her story couldn't be more ironic: In real life, Gail was busy writing her novel -- with a protagonist who happens to have been diagnosed with breast cancer -- when real life intervened. Gail was diagnosed with breast cancer, launching her into a yearlong struggle to combat and comprehend the turn her life has taken. Even more ironic, Gail's husband is a radiologist!
If you're expecting a downer, Cancer is a Bitch isn't it. Sometimes, I caught myself laughing. This is a cancer memoir. Why am I laughing? Because Gail is your everyday mom living in Wisconsin. She's just like me -- and you. She got hit hard by cancer and figured out how to keep her head high. It's a lesson anyone can use.
Moreover, Gail tells the truth without softening the edges. Gail's descriptions about her marriage are incredibly honest. (I have to ask Gail if her husband read the first draft and what he said).
Like this passage, soon after her diagnosis:
"And if I wanted to cheat on Mike, which I never have, but am so mad at him, I'm thinking I might want to now... who would want a woman who'd had cancer? And it occurs to me that my butchered breast down's bother him because it brands me: Undesirable Woman."
My single dad blogger friend, Depot Dad, was also diagnosed with cancer recently. He's also balancing work and parenting -- oh, and his health. I'm amazed at how he's holding it all together, too.
Have you ever had a scary health diagnosis? How did you balance it all?