The risks

August 12, 2003

Last night, I dreamt that I found a lump in my left breast. I was staring at my reflection in the mirror when I noticed that there was something uneven about my breasts. I ran my hand over the left one and found a bump the size of an egg.

Strangely, in my dream I didn’t panic. I remember thinking, “Well, it’s a good thing I have a doctor’s appointment next week.”

Because I do. Every time I go to the doctor, I wonder if she’ll announce to me that I’ve inherited one of my mother’s or grandmother’s ailments.

My grandmother had breast cancer decades ago. Her sister has it now. Many of the medical decisions my mother makes revolves around cancer risk. She has a mental list of newspaper and magazine articles about studies done proving this or that will affect you.


This morning, my co-worker announced that her mother’s cancer has been diagnosed as terminal and she is packing up her things to take care of her in her dying days. It was especially surreal to hear this news because just last weekend I watched One True Thing, in which Renee Zelweiger’s character drops her life to take care of her dying mom played by Meryl Streep.

“Are you okay?” Mark asked.
“Yeah,” she said, “I mean, everybody dies some way.”
“But she’s your mom,” he said.

Everything happens for a reason, Mark told her. I used to say that, too. I would tell myself those words when I was hit with disappointment or tragedy.

Maybe it’s true. I haven’t proved myself wrong, yet. But seeing this woman have to drop everything to take care of her dying mother, wondering what other disappointments and tragedies lurk ahead, I wonder what those reasons could possibly be.


  • I'm Christine, and this is a slice of my life—a sweet, rich, wildly indulgent slice that would taste really good with a scoop of Breyers vanilla bean ice cream. Read more >>

  • I run a darling, friendly, little graphic design studio.
    I look on the bright side.
    I take photos. Lots of photos.
    I wish on stars and on websites.

  • I built my first web site 7 years ago and got 15 seconds of fame. (It changed my life.)
    I launched, then relaunched, an online magazine.
    I admitted to several embarrassing crushes.
    I consumed more bacon than any human should and lived to tell the tales.

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