Don’t Cry Because It’s Over

One of the best quotes ever is credited to Dr. Seuss.  There was wisdom in all he wrote, but this is my favorite.

“Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.”

Most of the time, when I think of that quote, I think of the end to a vacation, or the last page of a good book.  But it really applies to many things.  For example, life.

The end of life is sad, no matter when it comes, but when it comes too soon, it can be devastating.  And that’s where Dr. Seuss comes in.

“Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.”

When you look at Jual’s brilliant smile, you can’t help but smile back.  It beams, across her whole face, and it’s contagious.  She guaranteed that when you saw that smile, at least that moment of your day was a good one, no matter what else was going on.

When you look at the gorgeous children Jual brought into this world, you can’t help but rejoice!  Her three little birds, amazing and precious creations, who will be here to cherish her memory, carry her smile, and continue the warmth and laughter in the home that Jual created.

When you see the dedicated friends and devoted family Jual has, you can’t help but know that she was herself a dedicated friend, a devoted wife, mother, and daughter.  She gave as much as she received in the way of love and friendship, and she touched every heart that she encountered.

When you see how much money she raised in the five years since her diagnosis with breast cancer, you can’t help but be proud of her for raising money and awareness of this disease, not just for her, but for all the other women who face the battle she fought.  She wanted to  pave the way for those that came after her, to give them hope, encouragement, and push evercloser to a cure so that someday, no one would have to go through this.

“Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.”

Don’t cry because Jual has passed on to the rest and reward she so richly deserved.  Smile because of the gift she was, the love she brought, and the lives she touched.

Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because she happened.

“I don’t know how long I will be here on this earth. But I do know that each day is a gift from God and while I’m here I’m going to enjoy every minute of it!” – Jual Vorce Harman June 2010

Save the TaTas, Stress Out the Mamas

I have happily gone along for the past ten or so years avoiding getting a mammogram.  I had one once, after losing my mother’s aunt and my father’s mother to breast cancer, and I figured no cancer on the planet could be as painful and humiliating as a mammogram.  I vowed to do whatever necessary not to have one done again – even if that meant getting the name of Chaz Bono’s doctor.

Well, as you can imagine, Chaz and I don’t travel in the same circles, so it was becoming quite obvious I wasn’t going to run into him, and when my doctor shoved his “it’s breast cancer awareness in here every month” prescription for what should be a yearly mammogram, I figured, what the hell.  I had these old boobs lifted last summer, and rarely have a chance to show them off, so why not?  And really, could the mammogram be as bad as I remember?

Why yes, it can!  But I optimistically left the radiologist’s office thinking it went rather well.  I was in and out in just a few minutes; I resisted the urge to belt out a few lines of Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl and I Liked It” as the technician was squishing and squeezing me into place, and while it was way more painful than I remembered it to be, I was done for at least another year.  Go me!

Then the letter came in the mail.

Okay, can I stop here for a second and tell you – if you’d like to casually mention to me that I might possibly have a disease that could potentially kill me, maybe you could text me?  Send an email?  Gimme a call?  Something a little more personal than a letter in the mail.

The letter simply said, “The results of your mammogram indicate the need for further studies.  Hope you’re having a nice day!”  Okay, I may have made up the nice day part.

Who doesn’t go into a tailspin with that kind of letter?

I called my doctor – the evil doer that made me go for the stupid test – and they didn’t even have the results.  And it took two days for them to get them.  The surgeon who did my breast lift was quite comforting in informing me the mammogram mishap likely had nothing to do with the surgery he did, but that I shouldn’t worry about what may be just a very routine recheck.  Easy for him to say, as he has no boobs that are in need of a recheck.

I opted not to share the news with too many people in advance, knowing that I’d garner way more sympathy when I had some actual news to share, but I did find tremendous reassurances from a few good Moms and my awesome sister.  I parceled out in my head all of my most valuable possessions – my Moms Panel pink collection to my closest Moms Panel friends; my children to that awesome sister (to kinda get back at her for all the times she was a pain in my arse when I had to watch her growing up); my husband to his good pal Dr. Veitia; my Disney pin collection to Amy and Anthony.

And today was the follow up testing.

Whew, am I glad that’s over with!  I take back everything I ever said about cancer almost being preferable to the pain and humiliation of the mammogram – even though I said it in jest.  If I could have told that woman today to squeeze a little harder to make sure she was seeing everything clearly, I would have.  And then when they did the ultrasound, it was all I could do to keep from taking the wand out of the woman’s hand to find the damn lump myself!

When all was said and done, I do have a little something in there, but they aren’t going to worry about it at the moment.  Their feeling is that it is entirely benign, and really very small.  It may be something I’ve had all along, but at this point, it is definitely not something to worry about.  At least for another six months.

The sweat and tears that have poured out of my body this week living in the FEAR that something COULD be wrong have given me a renewed appreciation for everything my Sisters battling breast cancer go through.  No superhero could be stronger; no warrior tougher; no soldier braver.  I’m wearing pink in honor of you guys tomorrow.

Although not Moms Panel pink – that’s already spoken for in my will.

Think Pink – in honor of Jual and the other women fighting Breast Cancer

October is breast cancer awareness month.  You’ll see commercials, billboards, newspaper ads, and t-shirts encouraging you to feel your boobs; get your mammies slammied; and other clever slogans designed to remind women to get their yearly mammograms, do their breast self exams, and keep themselves cancer free.

 

About 20 years ago, I worked in an office, and one of my co-workers had a very good friend named Kathy.  Kathy was young – 30ish – with 3 children.  She had battled breast cancer, and I think that was the first time I had ever thought it was possible for someone who wasn’t a grandmom to have breast cancer.  I don’t know why, but I had always just thought it was one of those things only older people got.  Shortly after I left that job, they found out that Kathy’s cancer had returned, and she eventually lost her battle, and again, I was left completely dumbfounded by the fact that breast cancer could kill someone so young.

My sister Megan has a good friend named Jual.  Jual was 29, and had just begun her pregnancy with her third child when she found a lump in her breast.  At a time when God was surely blessing this wonderful family with a new little baby, and all focus should have been on the joy and wonder that a newborn brings, Jual and Alex were thrown into chaos.  Treatment that was safe for the baby had to be found, which meant taking a less aggressive approach to the cancer.  And when baby Ryder finally made his appearance in August of last year, Jual only got to enjoy a short couple of days with him before she was undergoing a mastectomy.  So much for a young woman to go through!

Just weeks ago, Jual celebrated one year cancer free, and then the walls of euphoric bliss came crumbling down.  A spot, which looked initially like an old, healed wound that had maybe gotten arthritic, was now labeled suspicious.  Tests were scheduled.  The news isn’t good.  Jual has Stage IV breast cancer.  The terms used to describe Stage IV breast cancer are “terminal” and “incurable”.

Jual is in excellent hands in terms of medical treatment, and with a caring, concerned medical staff on her side and a host of family and friends surrounding her and the whole Harman family, we hope and pray that Jual gets a miracle.  We pray for her to find the strength to battle tooth and nail against this disease, damning the cancer that threatens her life.  We hope she knows that prayers for her are being said far and wide – the Sisters of the Good Shepherd pray for her and her family in Clarks Summit, PA.  Her name was around the neck of someone she has never met as they walked 5 kilometers in the Susan G. Komen breast cancer walk this weekend.  She has been added to prayers lists at Churches in Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida.

There is nothing so sad as thinking of someone so young, with so much potential and so much to live for, having to fight a battle so difficult.  But I know that she will face this head on, do her best to kick ass and take names, and use every ounce of strength to continue to mother her three babies and love her husband.  That’s what superheroes do.

So in honor of Jual, and all the other women, young or old, who are fighting breast cancer, think pink.  Wear your ribbons, show your support, and get your mammogram.