Find the Cause


“59,000 North Americans will die of breast cancer in one year.”
Pink Ribbons Inc. National Film Board of Canada


I was up late the other night watching the documentary, Pink Ribbons Inc. I was shocked to learn the facts. We think we know and understand something and it is revolutionary to realize we know nothing. I assumed that the Pink Ribbons Inc. campaign was the best that we as a society can do to research this disease. All the money that is raised, surely is going to find the cause and end its destructive path. As the film asks, ‘How can we cure a disease (when) we don’t even understand the cause?’

I talked to my son’s girlfriend about breast cancer. She told me that she has three girlfriends whose mothers all have breast cancer. One is dead and the other two are into treatment. That’s a lot of women, considering this young woman does not have that many friends.

Watching this film brought to mind an experience I had years ago. It started one very late night after being out with friends. I was in the bath and as I washed, I felt something on the side of my left breast. Puzzled, I put my hand there, and to my horror, felt a distinct hard lump—the size of a walnut. No. It couldn’t be, but it was. Shaken, I toweled off, dressed and drove myself to the emergency ward at the local hospital. What in the world did I think they could do at that point? I just went. Maybe a doctor could reassure me that it was not so… just upon examination.

I must have looked stricken, as they were very kind to me. The nurse had me wait in a darkened private room with a cot. She told me to lay down and wait, because the doctor would be a while. It was 3 am. I stayed in the darkness, in fear. My hand was drawn to that lump. So suddenly it had appeared. How is it possible that one’s life can be utterly changed with such a small discovery? Cancer or benign? How long would I have to wait to get that answer? I had none of the risk factors. No one in my ancestry (as far back as I can go) has had breast cancer.


“The most important risk factor for breast cancer is being a woman.”
Dr. Olopade, MD, Director, Cancer Risk Clinic, Chicago

Of course he couldn’t tell me for sure what this lump was, but he thought that it was not any kind of tumor—it was not attached. Yet, you can’t tell me for sure, I challenged. No, he responded, not for sure. And so I went the way that every woman does with this kind of medical issue. I booked in for mammogram, which I had never had before. Next, I went for an ultrasound. I had to wait three weeks before I was in a specialist’s office finding out the verdict. Those three weeks taught me all about how much we take our health for granted. Suddenly that left breast was the most beautiful body part and I took to going topless in the privacy of my home. I had read how it was common for a woman to go in for that final consult and 24 hours later the breast or part of it is removed. I gazed in the mirror knowing one day it may be gone and only a scar left in remembrance. I felt this strange sense of mourning, like I was saying goodbye to an old and dear friend.


“One in eight women will sometime in her lifetime be diagnosed with breast cancer.”
Pink Ribbons Inc.


The surgeon had me sit up on the examining table. It was a cyst, he said. I can remove it now with a syringe. Yes, please, do. And he did. It was aspirated and the lump was gone. Have you ever dodged out of the way of an oncoming vehicle? That’s how it felt. I gazed around that waiting room, with the women all wearing the same expression of fear and apprehension, dread—I silently said a prayer for all of them. I knew it was just luck of the draw that I escaped this one.

This time…


“Around the world, someone is diagnosed with it, breast cancer, every 23 seconds, and every 69 seconds someone dies of it.
Pink Ribbons Etc.

Read more Adrienne, click her tag…


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