The Other C Word

I had my bi-annual check-in appointment this afternoon with my Jeopardy champion oncologist, who once showed me a pic of him hanging with Flavor MotherHumping Flav. So cool! This is my three year anniversary of when I finished my radiation treatment for breast cancer, even more cool.

We talked, he medically felt me up and we caught up on my next stand up show and life, he even gave me some pointers for the Jeopardy Contestant Eligibility Quiz next week. It was uneventful and pleasant.

On the way home I started thinking about how my life would change again if a tumor was discovered. I’ve had thyroid cancer and breast cancer, my mother had lymphoma and the lung cancer which killed her in 2014, My father died of pancreatic cancer in 2012. We were a family of three, and had five cancers among us, four of them within two years of each other. Was it environmental? Did we live on the Love Canal of Anne Arundel County? Was it hereditary? I did massive genetic testing a couple of years ago and they found nothing. Well, I did have genes of course, but no BRACa or other mutations. I thought my double helix might be so effed up that it would resemble the symbol for the Artist Formerly Known as Prince. So, WTF happened?

But even though I always have that little voice in the back of my brain saying “Three Strikes You’re Out, Someday…) I don’t let myself dwell on it. I am happy, I am lucky, I will not take that for granted.

I have some very cool friends who are currently in treatment for cancer and I am inspired by their courage and tenacity. I send them good juju during every morning’s meditation. I mourn for my parents to this day in large heaving sobs sometimes and in small ways othertimes. Today at the hospital I pulled through a parking spot to the adjacent one to face out and I felt my father clapping, we used to call him Frank “Pull Through” Chase. I feel them with me when I am volunteering with patients undergoing breast surgeries, and especially when I spoke at the National Cancer Survivor Day Celebration last year at the hospital .

I hope my parents are well if they are still around in some form somewhere, and I hope I will see them there someday if they are. I don’t spend my time visiting their graves because they are not hanging out there, they are everywhere to me.

Two words I’d use to describe my parents during their illness were brave and grateful. Both never complained, and though no one is ever happy to be told they have a terminal diagnosis, both were appreciative the days they had over the years, and especially my mom, took full advantage of every day until the end.

So, in honor of my three year anniversary, I will be brave and grateful. I will continue to push myself to go beyond my comfort zone and stretch my boundaries. I will remember perspective and gratitude and what will matter five years from now, and what won’t. I will be grateful for the time, the people I love, the opportunities afforded to me, and a fresh set of old eyes taking in the beauty of my life, both the mundane and the occasionally spectacular.

As far as my immediate plans, I feel like I should take my tits out for a night on the town, but I’m going to stay home and binge on Jeopardy instead. Answer: Who is going to finally pass a preliminary Jeopardy quiz.  Amy “Potent Potables” Chase, that’s who!

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