So yesterday I turned in my final assessment for this semester. "You know what that means?" I said to Mr Bea.

"Toga!" he replied. But then he had to stay late at work, so it was a girl-only night after all. I decided to stay on the couch (sans toga, although my top was slightly Grecian in style) with a soothing home-made orange and cinnamon infusion*, watching TV and working on my IIFF entry. And then, of course, I donated what I would have spent, had I gone out, to the Queensland branch of the Cancer Council as part of their Girl's Night In appeal.

I guess, to me, cancer and infertility have long been related, ever since I watched my mother plunge head-first into menopause after chemo and radiation therapy. Years later, when I found out shortly after our wedding that she wasn't just an isolated blip on our family tree, I wondered seriously if I should be producing genetically-related offspring at all. But my mother remains opposed to having her genes tested, and such a high percentage of breast cancer cases - even amongst men, like my grandfather, who succumbed to the disease when I was five - are not related to the classic BRAC mutations at all, although new genetic markers continue to be found all the time.

In the end, what I came to notice about my family tree was this: not the people who had been affected by breast cancer, but the people who weren't. Dozens of them. Even on my mother's side. Whole groups who had lived to die of some other curse. And another thing: my mother survived. She has been in remission for fifteen years. It's true, she's been lucky, but breast cancer patients are getting luckier all the time - thanks to the efforts of organisations like the Cancer Council.

Even so, infertility has brought the spectre back to me these last few years. For one thing, there was that time we thought Mum's cancer was back. We'd already been trying some time. I dropped by the house and, unwittingly, she demanded grandchildren before she died - which event, she warned me, was imminent (a couple of months later, she turned out to be fine). On the other hand, despite reassurances from several doctors, backed by studies, I remained afraid of hormone treatments for a long time. I also fretted as time slipped away - I was supposed to have my kids young, before I started screening (which I'm due to start in 2008 - after, I was told, I'm finished breastfeeding, ha ha), and I also wanted them to be old enough to understand about treatment, should that happen and, well, I just wanted to feel like I had time to watch them grow up some.

I don't want to sound too dramatic. There is an excellent chance I will never face a diagnosis of breast cancer, and there is a good chance of cure if I do. It's just... well, you know how it is. You see just enough so you can't take things for granted anymore. I'd like to say that's the precious thing about it, but really I just wish someone would make the disease go away.

*I bought a new one-cup infuser. It's great! I peeled half an orange, threw in a cinnamon stick, and poured over some boiling water. One of my favourites.

Other Bloggers Who Spent The Night In To Aid Cancer Treatment
Vee of The Sweet Life - and her pink-frangipanni-scented bath.
Ellen at Miss E's Musings - sitcoms, couch-potatoing, and snuggling with the dog.
Pamela hasn't had time to relax or have fun this week, but made a donation anyway.
Melissa (the Stirrup Queen) spent time browsing the bookstore on their evening in (the store) to work out how much to donate to their local cancer charity.
Rachel stayed in, and gave her daughter, Hadas, a good start as she went out to help the local door-knock appeal.
Samantha enjoyed grilled tomato and cheese sandwiches on a boy-girl night in, and sent a donation to the American Cancer Society.
Serenity curled up in front of Mythbusters and then had a great night's sleep, with proceeds going to her local breast cancer charity.
Email me at infertilefantasies at gmail dot com or leave a comment to tell me about your night in.

Cancer's Reality - from Fellow Bloggers
Toddler Planet - inflammatory breast cancer, a rare form.
KarenO - breast and ovarian cancer in the family, and the BRAC2 mutation.
Vanilla Dreams - (password protected) - living with infertility after ovarian cancer.
Cancer Baby - she was named Jessica, and she was loved.
Imstell is a mum blogging in the aftermath of treatment for inflammatory breast cancer. Thanks, Whymommy, for pointing her out.
Lisa P sadly passed away earlier this year. Halfway through her battle with infertility, she was struck down by Hodgkin's lymphoma. (Check the comments on the most recent post.)
Email me, or leave a comment, if you know of other bloggers in our community who are writing about living with the reality of cancer who would like to be linked here. It might be themselves, or a close family member.

I also found this story offering hope to children whose parents have survived cancer for ten years or more. It seems they have an improved chance of remission if they end up facing the same cancer.


Ellen K. said...

I spent the night in and made a donation to the local ovarian cancer awareness group. Blog post coming soon!

Vee said...

Bugger! I wish I had cinnamon in the house I would be making one of those infusions right now, it sounds refreshing.

Yes I have been thinking about the whole cancer and gene thing a lot recently, with my mother having lung cancer and my uncle recently dying from it, it is on my paternal side and my maternal side so no escaping it.

Here is hoping that there will be a cure very soon.

Pamela Jeanne said...

Well I wasn't able to spend the night in as I've been consumed with a huge, week-long work project that involves robot cars (long story).

But, I fully support your efforts and will donate nonetheless. We lost my sister-in-law who was just 43 some 18 months ago. Still coping are many, but mostly my brother-in-law, her 10 year old son and six year old daughter.

Ellen K. said...

Link to my post:

Jess said...

I never thought of the whole genetics thing much in realtion to breast cancer (more IF, as that is what runs among OUR women in our family) until now. Breast cancer runs in Ava's family and her grandmother died of it.

Strange thing, genetics. But everyone has something, you know. Cancer, IF, Crazy....I'm glad you decided to reproduce after all. :)

Three cheers for all you do for cancer and if!!

The Town Criers said...

I think it's how our minds are trained to go. We look at the people with cancer rather than the ones who do not and the ones with inform our fears more than the ones who do not. Breast cancer is scary. And it's beyond frightening to watch someone close to you going through it and know that you share the same genes.

LJ and I did our girls night out today instead of last night. We went to a book store and spent no money. And that money will be going to our version of the Cancer Council.

WhyMommy said...

What a lovely thing to do. Thanks for linking to me! Another mom with cancer I love is imstell at "I can't complain any more than ususal" -- she has two young children and just celebrated her 1 year survial anniversary!

I am grateful that I had a chance to have my children (barely) before my diagnosis. My infant actually is the one who discovered it, when he wouldn't breastfeed on one side. Cancer, infertility, and the use of these breasts are indeed all intimately related.

Best of luck to you as you navigate the second trimester, sweetie.

Beagle said...

I suck for not participating.
I can donate though!

Anonymous said...

You inspire me to get myself more organised and do more (I have several regular payments set up to various organisations but I can/should do more).

BTW, cancerbaby's name was Jessica not Jenny, and she was indeed loved and sorely missed.

Rachel Inbar said...

Amazing project. We donated without doing a special girls'-night-in (since pretty much every night here is the girls' night in...)

Here there's a yearly campaign where high school kids volunteer to go house-to-house to collect money. This year (for the second time) my daughter, Hadas, went collecting, so we made sure she got a good start :-)

Bea said...

Thanks, anonymous. I went looking, but the blog was taken down and it was only that very last post that showed the name. I kind of remembered her as "Cancer Baby" which I shouldn't, really, but that's all my hazy memory served me.


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