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My brave sister July 20, 2011

Posted by Jenny in memoir.
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Betsy, Peter, Jenny, Mom. Photo taken in spring of 2007, a few months before Mom died.

My sister Betsy recently received a diagnosis of breast cancer. She will have a mastectomy on August 1. It is her second mastectomy—the other was done in 1995, if I am remembering the year correctly. At that point both my Mom and Dad were still alive, and I was in a serious relationship with my long-term partner Bob—one that lasted until 2009—and so four of us were able to go to the hospital in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, to give Betsy moral support. (It wasn’t doable for Peter, who has lived in Montana for a long time.)

I remember so clearly visiting Betsy in her hospital room as soon as she had come past the effects of the surgical anaesthesia. We didn’t know what to expect—but Betsy greeted us cheerfully—it was wonderful! She was rising to the occasion in a truly admirable fashion.

Now, more than 15 years later, the same situation presents itself. I have to wonder why one person should be the target of such a disproportionate amount of bad medical news. In some families, the women possess a certain gene that predisposes them to breast cancer. We are not in that situation. It is only Betsy who has suffered the misfortune. I can’t help but think that it has something to do with the many powerful medications she has been on over the years for other conditions. All those chemicals.

I spoke with Betsy today. She was joking about it, as usual. Our phone conversations generally feature a great deal of laughter, and this was no exception. She said it wasn’t necessary for me to be there—but I want to be there. It will just be me this time, as Mom and Dad are both gone and my relationship with Bob ended, although we are still good friends.

More power to you, Betsy. I admire you so much.



1. Thomas Stazyk - July 20, 2011

My best wishes to Betsy and your family. I’m sure all will be well.

Jenny - July 20, 2011

Thank you very much.

2. Ben Bacot - July 22, 2011

I agree Jenny, more power to you Betsy. I have a wierd way of thinking a lot of times and have had many family members and friends go through crazy stuff. I think that sometimes bad things happen to good people because they are the only ones that could handle such things. All my best to your sister, you, and your family.

3. Jenny - July 23, 2011

Ben, what a great idea that is! But I always thought of you as a positive thinker—not out of some ideology but simply because of caring about fellow human beings.

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