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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Cancer, Women & Society

Last week someone I used to work with and that I also considered a friend passed away from cancer. The cancer started in her reproductive organs and like so many women diagnosed with this terrible disease, my friend after a brave battle, succumbed.

She was one of the kindest people I have ever met and someone who was happy with the life she was given and who truly knew how to appreciate the little things.
Cancer is always a terrible disease. What makes uterine and particularly ovarian cancer scary is that it is hard to detect in its early stages. And therefor it is often fatal.

There are other cancers that also are hard to detect in early stages, but this cancer that strikes only women and a higher percentage of women who have never been pregnant (don't even get me started on that one), I feel is not getting the attention it deserves. And I wonder if it his would be the same if this was a disease that struck men.

Maybe I am upset right now because of my friend's death, but this is a thought that occurred to me long before I even knew my friend was struck with cancer.
I think I am lucky to live in the US and that I was born in Germany, since gender equivalency is on the right track in these two countries (if not perfect).
Nevertheless the other night -ironically after a Nymphoto meeting- Maria, my husband and I went out to dinner. Maria ordered a beer, the husband and I ordered juice.
The waiter automatically gave the beer to the husband. And the juices to us women. I decided I would treat everyone for dinner that night and asked for the check. When my credit card (with my name printed on it!) was returned to the table for signing it was given to the husband.
Last week when I took the puddle jumper flight from Placencia to Belize City I handed my luggage over at check-in.
The clerk returned a minute later to offer the receipt for my luggage to my husband, who was standing right next to me.
I guess these small events are no big deal , but it just reaffirmed to us that we are not crazy.
And that the need for Nymphoto and other women's organizations has not passed.
Think what you will of Hillary Clinton, she certainly got a raw deal. (I recommend reading Cara Phillips posts on Ground Glass from last June on the subject).

Bottom line: I am angry today and I am grieving for my friend, who was a great woman.

If you (can) give to charity consider giving to ovarian research also. A research study to help find a way for early detection is under way with volunteers who might be at higher risk for the disease.
I know that there are other issues that are perhaps more pressing, but I think one has to care on a micro and macro level.
You can inform yourself better about (ovarian) cancer here: www.cancer.gov
--lovely URL, isn't it.

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