Tuesday, April 2, 2013
No April 2 Redux
Today is April 2. Three years ago it was a Friday. We were three days into counting the omer and Barbara Kline Shapiro's father had just died. His funeral was that morning and Daddy went, which meant that I was at the hospital by myself when Dr. S. told me, using his less-than-perfect bedside manner, that the metastatic breast cancer that had resulted in a pelvic fracture that was causing you such excruciating pain was all over your body--in your bones, in your liver and in your lungs. Of course you were there, too, but the Fentanyl made you loopy and you sort of drifted in and out. Lucky for me, Elliott and Shira showed up sometime during that morning and then I wasn't alone anymore.
Interestingly, on this year's April 2, I attended the first-ever benefit screening of "Decoding Annie Parker," a not-yet-released feature film about the discovery of the BRCA1 gene. Lucky for me, it was right here in New York at the Directors Guild Theater on the west side. Additional screenings -- sponsored by the The Basser Research Center for BRCA -- are scheduled for this fall in other cities, including Los Angeles on September 17 and Philadelphia on October 2.
The film traces the life of Annie Parker, who lost her mother and her sister to breast cancer before she herself battled both breast and ovarian cancer. Even as Annie fought these diseases, convinced there was a genetic link within her family, Dr. Mary-Claire King and her research team were working feverishly to connect the dots within families like Annie's, where breast cancer is present in more than one generation. Of course, in the end, they did just that and, with their discovery of the BRCA1 gene, made one of the most significant cancer breakthroughs of our time.
For many of us in the audience tonight, Annie Parker's story is our story. It's my story and, although you didn't ever know it, it's your story, too. I'm indebted to Annie Parker for allowing it to be told and to Steve Bernstein, the producer, for telling it so well. I am hopeful, too, that if enough people see Annie's story and the Basser Center is successful in its work, fewer families ever will have to endure an April 2 like the one we endured just a few short years ago.