this is a sunday evening blog post for breast cancer research.

you’ll notice the button on the right.

if you click on it, eventually you’ll find an impressively long list of bloggers who’ve taken today to focus their blogs in one way or another on breast cancer.

this is actually the list.

anyway, i heard about this and immediately thought of my wonderful grandmother.

my nana is one of the strongest women i’ve ever met. she’s not just beating breast cancer…she’s tearing a new *sshole.

i think it must have been over a year ago when we heard about her positive mammogram. these days you’d never know she’s ever been ill.

she’d always been the second in commmand…as my father grew up she took shotgun to the strong father-figure my papa was. they ran a tight ship, strongly focused on their church and their neighborhood.

my dad was the oldest of four, and although he and his siblings grew up in the seventies and did push the envelope a bit during those turbulent times, my grandparents stood strong as a team. papa called the shots. nana had his back.

she even stood behind him during his darker years, when drinking became a problem and threatened to shatter the fabric of their family. in some ways, my father’s side of the family is still reeling from those times and their consequences.

but a few years back, papa died.

nana was left to face the world on her own.

to face god and new york city and its challenges and her 80th birthday all alone.

and as she put it to me late one night three years ago over a glass of merlot, “god asked me to quit putting your papa first, and to really find god for myself. he had one more lesson for me, and in some ways it’s the best thing that ever happened to me.”

i still wonder how she interpreted the cancer thing.

for me, it seemed like the beginning of an end.

i started thinking about losing her. remembering papa’s funeral. feeling too far from my one remaining grandmother, stuck out here in the midwest. feeling for my dad, who’s not the outwardly emotional type.

and while i was worrying about all that…nana took cancer on at the line of scrimmage and pushed it back twenty yards.

and listen, i know that battle’s never over.

i see how hard these past few years have been for her.

but i can’t help highlighting how strong the top of my family tree is.

putting her on a pedestal and giving her that recognition.

while she fought this disease, she watched it kill my father’s cousin, thirty years her junior.

daughter to her sister.

they were in the same hospital, and one came home.

when i think about breast cancer i now think of the strength a woman’s capable of. i think i have similar thoughts of child birth, and in fact of women in general.

but watching my grandmother take on such a scary and challenging disease leaves me with a deep hope about the future for anyone suffering now.

for anyone who’ll take it on in the future.

the disease can be beat.

and the more people who believe that, the more likely it is we’ll succeed.

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