A friend of mine, a beautiful, vibrant, active and strong woman of 54, was diagnosed with cancer last month. Last week, she had both her uterus and bladder removed. Once she heals from surgery, she'll begin radiation and chemotherapy for the cancerous cells found in her lymph nodes. She now wears an external bag to relieve herself and always will.
Statistics show one in three people will be diagnosed with some form of cancer. So I guess, really, she was just the odd girl out. She worked for years at the Rocky Flats nuclear power plant. She did manual labor on the assembly line. Often times, the parts she lifted and carried were too heavy to hold at a 45 degree angle on her forearms. Instead, she carried them lower, with her arms extended, across her lower abdomen. They told her it was okay.
Yesterday, the Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health, a federal panel, delayed action on a petition filed by former employees for compensation and health benefits, "...voting to allow coverage for only a limited number of workers exposed to neutron radiation between 1952 and 1958." (The Denver Post).
My friend didn't make the meeting. She's not walking much yet.
Over coffee this morning, we talked about her situation. As part of a younger generation, I couldn’t fully comprehend why someone would put themselves in harms way for a paycheck for years, if not decades. Any place you’re required to wear a protective suit poses a certain amount of risk.
Sounds like I’m blaming. I’m not. I’m grateful, really. Grateful I got myself an education that resulted in a career where the biggest health concern is (perhaps) carpal tunnel resulting from long hours on the laptop. Grateful that I don’t expect, never did, my employer to take care of me short or long-term. I don’t expect retirement, I plan and budget for it. You don't plan for cancer, though.
I hope my friend responds well to treatment and recovers enough to enjoy her retirement. Big price to pay for a nine-to-five.