I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Ignorance is Survival

I recently had a chat to a client which was so remarkable I think it's well worth blogging about.

She's a good client, I see her at least twice a year for her sons's birthdays. She's my age but her kids are young (6 and 8). This past week when I saw her she apologised to me for being tired and looking crappy - to which I laughed and said the beauty of ordering cake is that nobody cares what you look like! It's not the kind of place where how you look has anything to do with how you're treated. She then commented that since the last time I'd seen her (about 10 weeks ago), she'd been kinda tired and struggling to stay on top of things.

Ten weeks ago I made her son's birthday cake.

The day after that party, she had a mastectomy and some lymph nodes removed.

Ten days before I saw her this time, she'd had a breast reconstruction.

This woman planned these surgeries so that both would not get in the way of her kids' celebrations. The first one she planned to be immediately after her first son's birthday, and the second one she planned far enough ahead of the second son's birthday so that she could recover in time.

It turns out that she has been battling breast cancer for the last two years. I've seen her at least twice a year in those two years and there is no way on earth I would have told you that she was someone going through that ordeal.

She started to tell me about the experience - from finding the lump to being diagnosed and then going through treatment and getting the all clear.  I told her I had no idea she'd gone through this, and I asked her if she was deliberately keeping it a secret. Apparently - her words - she dealt with the whole thing by remaining in total ignorance about it.

Early on in her diagnosis she was told that they had caught it early enough, and that she would survive, and that she'd have chemo and that should resolve it. She took everything her doctors said at face value - didn't go Googling things, didn't ask a whole lot of questions, just went along with the treatment plan. After her courses of chemo, her doctor felt the lump and said, "That's great, the mass is smaller, the chemo is working!" to which my client said, "What do you mean? Doesn't chemo work for everyone?"

She literally had NO IDEA that chemo had a chance of not working.

Ignorance is bliss, indeed. She did admit to having some bad days when she thought about the worst...but she'd always come back to what the doctor said about her surviving and so she was reassured that it would all be fine.

It reminds me a little of those "what would you do if you did not know you cold fail?" questions...this woman survived cancer in part because her attitude was about survival being the ONLY possible outcome.

I was humbled - and awed - by her story and I'm sharing it here because it served to remind me (again) that sometimes attitude really is everything. Like the cliche says, it's not so much about what happens to you but about how you deal with it.

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