Aging Expectations

Can You Escape Mortality?

orchidLast week we went to the funeral of Michael’s second cousin. He was older but way too young to leave this earth. It was a small service but so emotional. His two children (now adults) were extremely sad.

Having lost my mother, I understand this sadness. Losing a parent is devastating, no matter how old you are or what your relationship is like.

A number of people got up to speak about this man and his impact on them.

Needless to say it was very moving and I was going through tons of tissues.

A middle school friend of the son told that he had only met his friend’s father a handful of times. But meeting him in his formative years proved influential. He stated how he wanted to emulate his friend’s father. To be as kind, as outgoing, as friendly, as caring (even to some boy, he hardly knew) as this man appeared to him.

Wow.

Isn’t that profound?

The impact you can have on people who you don’t even realize. Luckily, this impact was a positive one. But doesn’t it effect your outlook and therefore behavior, when you think you could be impacting another person’s life in a positive or negative way?

Michael and I left the funeral and went right to a genetic counseling appointment for me.

My gynecologist recommended it because my grandmother and my mother both had breast cancer. My mother died from the cancer (see devastating experience mentioned above).

You can now have a screening done to determine if your genes are negatively effected with breast cancer. If they are, you can take action to remediate your risk of getting the cancer.

We needed to meet with the counselor first to determine if I was even a candidate because not everyone is. Just because you have breast cancer in your family does not make it genetic.

In fact, the counselor gave the example of 100 women in a room with breast cancer. 85 of them got the cancer from unknown causes, while some other kinds of cancer etiology are quite clear (learn about Asbestos causing mesothelioma). Only 10 of those women got cancer from the specific gene mutation the testing offers. The last five are from other mutations that haven’t been fully study.

**Please note, I went to one counseling session. I am NOT a breast cancer or genetics expert. I am only discussing information that I was told and am repeating. Please do not rely on anything I am saying!

The counselor advised that with my mother and my grandmother’s cases alone, she would probably not recommend the testing for me.

However, I have a broken branch in my family tree (well, a few of them but this one is major). I do not know my father or anything about him or anyone in his family.

That unknown area created more reason for me to have the test.

We agreed. It’s a simple blood test and I’ll get the results in about 6-8 weeks. I’ll keep you posted…

It seems significant that these events occurred on the same day. I’m not sure why. Maybe because they both deal with mortality or dealing with mortality.

You can’t escape it.

Side Story…

I’m learning a new piece on the piano. There’s one part that I keep messing up.

“Let me start over,” I said to the teacher

“No,” she said, “concentrate on this one area where you are making the mistake. Only play this part.”

I scrunched up my face.

“If you keep playing the whole thing you’ll never deal with the problem area. You have to take care of the problem before you can play the whole thing correctly.”

Huh. Really. Well, doesn’t that sound like a metaphor for my life.

I know where the problem is but I concentrate on everything else (especially when I’m handling those other parts comfortably). I try to avoid even thinking about the problem area.

This day sharpened the focus for me. Death is inevitable but I am in control of every moment leading up to my final curtain call.

And, I want to make those moments count.

I want to have a positive effect on myself and any others that I meet along the way.

Maybe they’ll speak at my memorial service. Maybe they won’t. But I’ll try my best to know in my heart, I’ve followed the plan.

 

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