Monday, March 19, 2018

#BlogExodus: Grow

I know today has grown entirely too long because I am just now, at slightly after 10 p.m., lighting the yahrzeit candle for my grandfather, who died 32 years ago tomorrow... and having no luck with either the wick or the match.

I wasn’t home to light the candle earlier in the evening because I was facilitating the NYC meeting of FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered , a grassroots organization that offers information, resources, and support to individuals and families affected by hereditary cancer.

Ironically (or perhaps not), my grandfather died from BRCA-related metastatic prostate cancer before “BRCA-related metastatic prostate cancer” was in the lexicon. For the last seven-plus years, though, it’s been part of my lexicon, as I’ve worked to raise awareness about the prevalence of BRCA mutations in Ashkenazi Jewish families – and most especially how they can lurk in the background, undetected for generations.

Making the tough decisions to undergo multiple surgeries and long recoveries to prevent cancer and ensure my genetics would not determine my destiny has helped me grow.

Learning the ins and outs of these mutations, advocating on behalf of the community affected by them, and offering advice and information to women (and men) following me on this path has helped me grow.

Perhaps most of all, the warm, wonderful embrace of others in the hereditary cancer community has helped me grow and enriched my life in untold ways – ways I could not have ever imagined back when BRCA wasn’t part of the lexicon.

Inspired by Ima on (and off) the Bima , this post is one in a series marking the days of the Jewish month of Nisan leading up to Passover, which begins at sundown on Friday, March 30, corresponding to the Hebrew date 15 Nisan 5778. If you want to play along, check out this year's #BlogExodus and #ExodusGram prompts .