Although you cannot escape your genes, they certainly can widen your world.It wasn't just a frivolous, feel-good post, though.
I'd just gotten off the phone with Ed, a second cousin, who was recovering from a mastectomy he'd had five days earlier. He'd called to set a date to meet for dinner and we settled on Wednesday of the coming week. Each of us was eager to, as he'd suggested in an email to me, "get together sometime soon, whether to discuss the effects of breast cancer, or just to become friends rather than somewhat distant relatives."
Three weeks earlier, his mother had called me. Surprised that she was calling out of the blue, my first thought was that someone had died. (Tfu, tfu, tfu...) Thankfully, that wasn't the case. Instead, she told me that Ed had been diagnosed with breast cancer and that his doctor wanted to see my BRCA test results. Of course I faxed them the very next morning.
I also called Ed to check in with him. Although we didn't see each other often when we were growing up--an occasional simcha, funeral or shiva call was about it--we talked for a while that day. A few more calls and emails followed as he compiled his family history (a piece of which we share) and prepared to meet with a genetic counselor.
Fortunately, he's now cured and, best of all, he's negative for a BRCA mutation, which is great news for him and even better news for his two college-age daughters.
We had a great time on Wednesday night, not just comparing notes about surgical drains and itchy incisions, but also about our jobs, our families and what we've been up to since my grandmother's funeral more than 21 years ago.
I'm hopeful that Ed and I will see each other again, that his wife Cara will join us next time, and that from the breast cancer lemons in our lives, we'll make some sweet, pink lemonade.