We hear about the risk factors for breast cancer. Not having children, or having them later in life is a risk factor.
But what of the emotional risk factor? What if your heart is broken so badly that your pain manifests in a mass, a tumour? I believe this is possible and here is my story.
In 1981, I lost my only brother to leukemia at the young age of 38. My Mom and Dad never got over Bill’s death; it is so unnatural and unacceptable for your children to predecease you. So, I became an only ‘child’ at the age of 32. I had never moved out on my own and I surely wasn’t going to do so then, not with Mom being so depressed and all. And so I stayed and life carried on.
Fast forward to 1988, Mom’s suffering with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease , frequent ambulance rides to the hospital and intubation, ended with her dying of a stroke on January 15th. I couldn’t keep Dad at home any longer as his Alzheimer’s Disease had progressed so that even a male attendant I had hired couldn’t adequately care for him. In February 1988, I placed Dad in a Centre d’Acceuil where he ‘lived” for one year until he succumbed from pneumonia in February 1989.
I found myself alone for the first time in my life, still living in my parents’ apartment. My next-door neighbour introduced me to a fellow and we began dating. In March, we were cross-country skiing at my country home in the Laurentian Mountains, when my home caught fire and burnt to the ground. If I tell you the shock was almost too much to handle, would you believe me?
My relationship with R developed and in the summer I gave up my apt to move in with R, in his house. I was in love. We were in love. R had been married before and didn’t want to marry again, but at 40 years of age, my biological clock was ticking to beat the band and I desperately wanted to have R’s baby even on the condition that he wouldn’t marry me. So we tried, and we tried and I didn’t become pregnant. R managed a hospital, so he had easy access to all the fertility testing possible. He was tested; I was tested. Everything was normal, but still I didn’t conceive.
August 1990 — my 41st birthday — I confronted R who had been acting distant. He said I’m not sure I love you anymore. Pardon me? I stuttered. I think I’ll go away for the weekend and think things through. Um, OK, I said, if that’s what you have to do.
Two days passed, somehow. R returned. I was right, he said, I don’t love you anymore.
I don’t know to this day how I drove from the house to my hair appointment 30 miles away but I did. Sue met me and we hugged the way BFF’s do. Chrissy, you look like you’ve seen a ghost. R doesn’t love me anymore, I sobbed.
In one month, unable to live in a house with no love, I moved out to an apartment of my own, childless, yes, but finally on my own, at the tender young age of 41.
May 1999, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. 10 years since that emotional upheaval. They say it takes about 10 years for a mass or tumour to become apparent.
Coincidence? God only knows.