Monday, March 26, 2012

Long Life Warranty

I have known since I was 9 years old that I have a warranty. I will live to at least 96.  I had been diagnosed with scoliosis and my family acted like this was a tragedy. The doctor wanted to fuse my spine and put a rod in my back. If I refused, he assured my family that I would grow up to be an ugly cripple.  During some quiet time, alone in my room, I demanded that the universe tell me what was really going on.

I found myself in a black marble courtroom with a judge who loved me very much.  The judge said I didn’t need to get the surgery I would not grow up to be an ugly cripple. Since this judge seemed to know (and control) my future, I asked for a long life.  The judge warned me that a long life is not always a blessing.  He made me promise not to forget to love life.  Then he promised me at least 96 years.

Silly me.  I thought that meant 96 healthy active years.  I was 9. I was healthy. I didn’t then know anybody who had experienced anything worse than a broken arm or leg.  The kids got a cast put on them and they healed.  I refused the surgery and I did not grow up to be an ugly crippled adult.

I didn’t take this as license to abuse my body or take unnecessary risks. I eat whole foods. I exercise daily. I stay active mentally and physically.

For over 60 years, this paid off.  Then I got hit by a car.  Not lethal, but enough to let me know that no precautions in the world are the same as protection.  That 96 years might mean many years in a wheelchair.  But I got my collar bone repaired. I got a new hip. I went to PT and I got my life back.

Two weeks ago I found a lump in my breast. I’ve had friends and relatives die of cancer. And before they died, they had surgeries and chemo and radiation and a generally painful miserable existence.

Since then I’ve been on the medical test circuit with injections and withdrawals and scans that mean fasting and lying still for half an hour.  (I HATE needles!)

I decided to meditate which keeps my body fairly still.  Afterwards the technician asked if I’d taken a sedative.  Hah! I rode my bike there.

These folks scanned my entire body, looking for cancer.  All they could find was the lump that I could feel.  Then the surgeon made an appointment and took it out. The preliminary lab report said it was cancer. She took a couple of lymph nodes. They did not have cancer.

The lump has been sent to another lab for further testing.  Later this week I’ll find out if I need radiation and / or chemo.  

I’ve had 4 surgeries in the past 3 years, and I’m looking at more painful treatments.  This is not the quality of  long life I was hoping for at age 9.  I see why some people forget to love life. It surprises me that I do not doubt that warranty.  I will live through this. 


  1. This is a wonderful post. Thank you for writing it when so much is going on. You know all the people who love you are rooting for you and we all agree you will have your 96 years. Love XOXO

  2. Thank you for letting us know how the prelim went! Yes, I suspect there will be more challenges, but at the same time you'll be leaping forward in other life directions. I need to live (healthy and working) past 96 to get everything I need to do done.

  3. Alison and Jacqueline, I expect you two to be there with me into the future!

  4. I am new here. Love your blog and just wanted you to know that I will be praying for you. We are on this road through the good and the bad but I won't trade it for anything. Jacqueline, I agree. I have way too much to do to ever stop.

  5. Becky, Thanks!I hope you get to enjoy your wish list of accomplishments!

  6. I'm a reader who has never before left a comment. I'm a bit younger (living past 50??) but my husband is in the "almost 70" category and I/we can relate to much of what you write.

    Six months ago during a routine exam a lump was seen in my breast. Yes, seen on an ultrasound but not felt. Not only was it not felt but it wasn't seen on my mammogram either. I went through all the testing, waiting and anguish that you're likely going through right now. It wasn't fun. At all. I also educated myself on breast cancer and when I finally made it to the most esteemed oncologist who treats only breast cancer (after visits to the surgical oncologist, radiologist, radiation oncologist, MRI, biopsies (plural) and testing etc. etc.) I had my eyes wide open. I had a lumpectomy with a sentinal node resection. It wasn't that bad; really wasn't. Outpatient surgery, home with drains, driving around two days later. Piece of cake compared to your hip replacement as you described it. Unfortunately for me a small deposit made it into my sentinal node. Even so, chemo was recommended/optional and radiation was a must. All things are relative but chemo wasn't that bad, especially considering the alternative. If you have to go through it please know there are ways the doctors can successfully manage the side effects and discomfort compared to even 5 or 10 years ago.

    Right now I'm on my 11th day of radiation (out of 33) and that isn't bad either. It's just a nuisance to have to go to the hospital every day. This is just another small glitch on the way to my reaching 96.

    I choose to think positive about living until 96 and, as I know you from your writing, I think you will too. Continue to be positive, enjoy your family, do everything that you want to do, once you get the results of your testing then educate yourself on your specific type of cancer and be your own loudest advocate.

    I look forward to continuing to read your blog entries when I'm past 80 and you're past 90!!


  7. Nadine,
    Thanks much for your support and telling me of your experience. Yes, it's amazing to feel well and have a lethal disease. I'm glad you are going to be there into the future! Lois