“Spring is Nature’s way of saying, “Let’s Party” – Robin Williams, comedian
The first day of spring and hope was in the air. It is always a day where I start to see hope for people (of course the stock market took a bit of a hit yeesterday after a rally so not all is good). More importantly personally we waited for my wife’s results from her BRCA test. This test is to see if my wife has an abnormal BRCA gene which indicates a higher probability of having ovarian cancer. It has been found that those who have breast cancer and the BRCA are more likely to have ovarian cancer.
The average woman (without an inherited breast cancer gene abnormality) in the United States has about a 12% risk of developing breast cancer over a 90-year life span. In contrast, women who have an abnormal BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene have up to an 85% risk of developing breast cancer by age 70. Women with BRCA1 and BRCA2 abnormalities are also at increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. The lifetime risk is about 55% for women with BRCA1 mutations and about 25% for women with BRCA2 mutations. By comparison, about 1.8% of women without an inherited BRCA abnormality get ovarian cancer. The risk for certain other cancers may also be higher with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations. But these risk increases (for cancers such skin or digestive tract) are much lower than the increases in risk for breast and ovarian cancer.
This cloud has been hanging over our heads since last July, but obviously the figth with breast cancer came first. The thought of another surgery (given that we are having revision surgery on Monday) just isn’t something we wanted to consider right now. Well the results came and my wife is negative which is a relief and slightly expected since her mother was negative. It is quite possible though that since my mother had cancer that I could have pass it along to my daughter but we can’t test her until she is old enough and the oncologists said that she doesn’t need to be tested until she is 30 or so. Amazingly we shared the news via phone, talked about it for 2 minutes and then went back about our business. No celebrating, no hugs, no kisses. Just another hurdle that we’ve met and jumped over without incident. No doubt though, this was a big deal. Nobody wants to mess with their ovaries in their 40s. My mother-in-law had hers taken out in her 50s and I think psychologically it is a tough transition and although she is fine and have never really talked to her about it, it is something that affects you more mentally than physically. I know my wife was not wanting to follow that route.
We even remarked at here we are concerned about cancer and how in current events today, Natasha Richardson, a beautiful actress our age could have an innocent fall and one day later be lost to her family. People always say. “What if you got hit by a truck tomorrow…”. Well this is just one more reason to focus on living life to the fullest and not worry about every detail.
So with that Spring in our step I took the time to get out for a walk for lunch yesterday. A beautiful day for San Francisco with crisp clear skies, I sucked in the air, walked by the Martin Luther King Memorial fountain and pool in Yerba Buena Gardens where people were sunbathing, and read his quotes about his dreams. I passed by two Japanese tourists with matching “Have a Nice Day” T-shirts with those yellow Happy faces.
For those who remember the 70’s a vision of the ubiquitous yellow “happy face” is burned into memory. From every direction this cheerful circular icon extolled us to “have a nice day” and none of us was curmudgeonly enough to not strive for compliance. Along with “Hey the Fonz”, my OJ Simpson football jersey, my Willie Mays jersey and my Farrah Fawcett t-shirt, my “Have a Nice Day” t-shirt was part of my t-shirt rotation that I wore every day after tearing off my school uniform. I was even part of the lunchbag brigade that had white lunchbags with the yellow smiley face which read “HAND” (Have A Nice Day). Instead of the graffiti we see today, you saw Yello Smiley face stickers everywhere. You couldn’t escape it. My dad loved those lunch bags.
After a while they started having different sayings on those lunch bags and then it started getting expensive to just buy those lunch bags. Eventually my parents got economical (or cheap) and started going to brown paper bags for lunch that they’d expect me to use at least 10 times before they would retire it. Every night my dad would write a new saying on the bag. Something inspirational , but mostly something that our friends would snicker at like: “Take care of your body”, “Listen to your teachers”, “Share with your friends” or “Be humble as pie”. Needless to say, we’d hide our lunch bags from the view of our classmates, but once they knew it was all over. As funny or corny as it was, I obviously remember it fondly and maybe it is something I should do with my children by leaving a little message for them each day. Just seeing my daughter roll her eyes or seeing the funny smirk on my son’s face as he reads each message will be priceless.
Yes, hope springs eternal and the first days of Spring not only bring new energy and new dreams, but remind us of old ones that we need to renew.