Birthday and Breast Cancer
On Christmas I turned...
And you know what?
I'm ecstatic I'm getting older.
(Take that, Mr. “Does-our-looks-obsessed-culture- want-to-stare-at-an-aging-woman” Rush Limbaugh!)
To be honest, yours truly here didn't always feel this way.
I remember when I was in my 20s, a random woman stopped me on the street...
Well, that was before I was diagnosed with breast cancer, three weeks before getting married for the first time at 43.
On top of that, I didn't have health insurance.
People diagnosed with cancer who don't have health insurance are more likely to die because they are less likely to get screened, and are typically diagnosed with advanced disease, a new study from the American Cancer Society finds ("Uninsured More Likely to Die From Cancer Following Diagnosis," Healthday News, Dec. 20, 2007).
Here are some more facts: 49% of women who are uninsured when they are diagnosed with b.c. have a greater risk of dying from the disease.
(That's why I became an activist and started The Cancer Vixen Fund for women who are uninsured. The CV FUND at St. Vincent's Comprehensive Cancer Center sponsors free screenings and treatments here in NYC.)
Fortunately, the tumor I had was detected early and I was able to go on my husband's insurance plan. Believe me, I know how lucky I am.
So, when I hear...
I say "consider the alternative".
A few days ago I got a call from Geralyn Lucas, my BFF, Author of WHY I WORE LIPSTICK TO MY MASTECTOMY and Emmy Nominated Writer for the movie of the same title. Geralyn had b.c. in her 20s, and she just had a birthday recently. When one of her friends complained about her birthday, Geralyn gave me a jingle. I could practically hear her eye-rollage over the phone as she said "Oy, don't you want to tell them to shut up?!"
Did she even need to ask?
WHY CAN'T WE ALL BE HAPPY ON OUR BIRTHDAYS, DAMMIT????!!!!
We've all survived something: cancer, a bad break-up, the death of a loved one, a failed career and we're still here on this ridiculous fabulous planet for yet another year. Isn't that a miracle?
Hey, don't get me wrong. It's not like I'm doing back flips about getting:
A. Crows Feet
B. A Chicken Neck
C. (More pronounced) Nasal Labials
D. A Saggy Face
E. A Droopy Butt
F. Flappy Boobs
G. Grey Hair (thank you Sharon for covering me there!)
H. All of the Above
CORRECT ANSWER: H
Especially in a world that worships youth and beauty. To you (younger) gals I say: listen to my genius pal Nora Ephron, she's right when she writes in I FEEL BAD ABOUT MY NECK that you should wear a bikini every day until you can't.
Maybe when you get to be my age, someone will have a cure for cancer and cellulite. Wouldn't that be great? Talk about having your birthday cake and eating it, too.
As for now, this birthday girl is trying to not take anything for granted or take aging lying down. And I do look forward to having an amazing body...of work.
Not to mention a spectacular shoe collection when I reach 107!!!
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