Today is the first National Previvor Day. I am a previvor so it must be my day right? Wrong. This day is not for me, or even about me. If you read my last blog you know that this day is, in my opinion, for saving lives. The life you save may belong to your daughter's soccer coach, or your son's freind's mother. Or perhaps your child's fifth grade teacher.
We are mid way through National Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Week and despite the hundreds of press releases sent out by FORCE, Facing Our Risk Of Cancer Empowered, our national day in the sun had yet to garner any national media coverage. And it is not for lack of effort on my part. I have hounded more editors and producers in the past two weeks than at any time in my life. They may not cover it, but there are many more media outlets out there who know about HBOC week.
So if the mainstream media is not covering HBOC Week and Previvor Day what do we do? We continue to do what we have always done, talk to our friends and tell them about our experiences. Doing so is the start of conversations that will lead to women we care about becoming more informed and considering their breast and ovarian cancer risk. One of the conversations I had some time ago went something like this:
"I heard you wrote a book."
"Yes, but is is not a lighthearted romp; it is a book about hereditary breast and ovarian cancer."
"My mom died of ovarian cancer. But I have always chosen to stick my head in the sand, I just don't want to know my risk."
Now I have to admit that at this point the conversation became decidedly awkward. I am a big advocate of genetic testing and of taking preventive action to preserve health. But I am also a big believer that everyone must choose their own path in life and that what might be right for me might not be right for someone else. I chose to tell this acquaintance the truth:
"My mother had breast cancer and I spent a lot of years avoiding genetic testing because I was not sure I was ready to deal with the information. Now I am really happy I did but you have to do what is right for you. If you have any questions I am happy to talk with you any time."
That was the end of the conversation. I don't know if she has ever cracked the cover of Positive Results, although there is a copy where she works so I know it is available to her. We have not talked about this issue in any of our more recent encounters. But that is fine, she knows the information is available to her.
The bottom line is that we are increasing awareness one woman at a time. I consider that a good start. Next year, maybe more.