Unforced Error

I’m not one to minimize someone else’s hardships. Life deals everyone ups and downs. But when someone fails to put something into proper perspective they deserve to be called out for it.

Tennis great Martina Navratilova was diagnosed with breast cancer in January.  Obviously terrible news for anyone. The type of cancer she has is called ductal carcinoma in situ, a non-invasive form of cancer where a surgeon can go in and remove just the tumor, a procedure she underwent in March. Typically this is followed up with 6 weeks of radiation treatment, not fun, but the side effects of radiation therapy are mild. This type of cancer has a 98% 10 year survival rate. If you have to be diagnosed with cancer, hers is pretty much the best case scenario, which is great news. Early detection is key and clearly worked to her benefit.

She hit one outside the line though. In an ABC interview with Robin Roberts, another cancer survivor who underwent chemotherapy and much more difficult treatment, Navratilova said, “[This] was my personal 9/11. I’ve been healthy all my life, and all of a sudden I have cancer. Are you kidding me?”

Dial it back, Martina. You have resources to access the best and brightest doctors and medical care. You do not have to worry about taking time off from a job while completing your treatment. Your cancer is essentially curable, and the medical intervention required is actually far less invasive than any of the orthopaedic surgeries and physical therapy you’ve undergone during your tennis career.

Don’t compare your tangle with a treatable disease to those who suffered horrific and sudden losses on 9/11. It’s insulting.

That said, April is Cancer Awareness Month.  Good thoughts and good luck to anyone battling cancer themselves (including you, Martina), supporting a loved one through cancer treatment, or remembering someone who was lost.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2010

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