Trying to make sense

I am a small town girl. I have grown up in a small town all my life and have chosen to live in another quaint town. About 40,000 of us live here, most of them families. Drunken behavior and stolen copper rims is news here. We all live in this idyllic happy place in our mind that our homes, schools and surroundings are shielded from any crime. Because in our minds we are not New york with its share of crazies, we do not have a seedy neighborhood where people do not go. “It cannot happen here”  we condition our mind to lull it into the illusion of safety. Then something like the Sandyhook elementary school shooting happens and shatters the illusion.

Every morning my kids refuse to wake up on time, I drag them out of bed, herd them through their morning routines all to ensure they get to school on time. Every morning I breathe a sigh of relief when the house is quiet and I start my work. I cannot even begin to imagine the thought of one of them not returning. The guilt I would feel in sending them to school in the first place. My heart cries for the parents who lost their kids while fighting off a chilling fear that the same thing can happen to me. I take my kids to the doctor every year for them to be safe medically, but how do I or any of us drop our kids off at school on Monday and not have that flicker of worry and that shiver in our spines? As a parent it is heart-wrenching to realize that nothing is as hard as other parents losing their babies. It is undoubtedly the worst thing in the world.  As a parent I can’t help but grieve knowing that there are prized and carefully selected presents, secretly wrapped and hidden that will never be opened on Christmas morning.  This weekend I hugged my kids tighter every night even as I thanked every God I could think of for the fact that my child was not lying still and breathless on that cold classroom floor. It’s a visual I cannot erase from my mind’s eye. I am too scared to let my words take me to that place.  It is unimaginable the  innumerable questions that 20 set of parents are reeling under. I feel driven to do something to abate the tears and soften the sharp daggers of hurt that are piercing the collective parental conscious of this country.

Every time a tragedy like this occurs both sides of the gun debate make this into a debate about what kill most “Guns or People”. While I do not have a side in this debate I do find myself agreeing to the fact that the only purpose a gun has is to kill or hurt somebody. No one can disagree that if the Newtown killer had, say a knife instead of a gun not so many lives would be so easily snuffed out. Tragedies like these will reignite discussions surrounding gun laws, but those talks and possible changes do nothing to ease the fear millions of parents are dealing with right now.  But the other thing that very few people seem to realize is how desensitized we have become to violence. In fact every other movie tends to glorify it. People being shot or bleeding do not seem to make us wince as much. Video games with kids as young as 14 playing as the shooter ruthlessly annihilating their so called opponents. Blood and gore spilling over the screens accompanied by congratulatory messages.  It is our job as parents to make sure that our kids do not become so immune to violence that it becomes mundane to them. Something has to change and while tonight I do not have the solutions for 20 set of parents any solution will come too late.



Overwhelmingly pink…

There have been many Octobers in my life… Every other October I probably bought some atrocious China made junk item, a tshirt here, a travel mug there and retreated with a pseudo warm fuzzy feeling of having done my bit for Breast cancer. With my altruistic quota of month complete I returned to my seemingly perfect life not giving the disease a thought till the next October rolled by. This October is different. Having cancer changed everything. My outlook to the pink ribbon the symbol of Breast cancer has changed. The whole deluge of pink products from junk key chains and fleece blankets to ridiculous pink hair extensions and bedazzled iphone cases all seem to be making a mockery of every breast cancer patient and survivor out there. The whole concept that once a year by donning a pin, getting a string of pink in their hair or changing their phone case they support breast cancer seems to trivialize the grimness of the disease and hardships every breast cancer patient has to go through daily just to survive.

Breast Cancer Awareness cannot be just people being aware that the disease exists; it should also be being aware and compassionate of the trial and tribulations someone with cancer goes through. It is not my intention to make this a sob story but of doing my bit to bring a few cancer truths to the fore. Breast Cancer affects the mind as much as it affects the body. There is nothing more that induces that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach than when someone is diagnosed with breast cancer. While facing your own mortality you also face the treatment where every hair from your body disappears not just the one on your head but your eyelashes and eyebrows. Facing the mirror everyday crushes your body image. Add to this fact that the skin darkens and dries out during chemo. No amount of makeup hides that. Then comes the surgery where you are mutilated and no amount of nip and tuck ever makes you whole again. The trifecta ends with radiation with burnt skin. The whole process is accompanied by tiredness and a lot of self doubt.The constant dependence on friends and family to help you do routine stuff. Drop your kids off, cook a meal, be out with the kids when they are playing. Ends up with you feeling lacking and imperfect in every sphere of your life.

While all this is happening with the body comes the double whammy; the bills. Even when someone has the best of insurance there are a lot of things that is out of pocket. Copays, deductibles all add up.  It is not fun fighting tooth and nail with insurance companies, keeping up with the gazillion bills that land in the mail every day while still having a mortgage and every other bill that existed before. I envy the security having money to spare can buy.  I look at the Romneys or the Kardashian bimbos or the Bacchans for that matter and what I see are families barricaded against financial ruin. There is almost no circumstance that will leave anyone in that family at a loss for food, clothing, shelter, or medical care. They are not living – will never live – one pink slip or one medical diagnosis from ruin. That cannot be said for me. I imagine it cannot be for most of my friends.  But this is a reality for most breast cancer patients. While it varies a lot statistically the out of pocket cost for an average breast cancer treatment cycle at the minimum is about $8000 -$10000.

So be aware and beware of where you spend your money buying pink stuff. Most of it is just people making a tidy profit in the guise of the Pink Ribbon. Most of the proceeds never reach the actual cancer patient. There are a lot of great organizations out there who actually help patients or better yet help someone you know who has cancer. Every ride, every babysitting, every call of concern is appreciated and cherished.