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Linda Barrett

Linda Barrett

Linda Barrett

Starting Over ~ A Sisterhood No One Wanted to Join

May the FORCE be with you…and me…           FORCE Logo

A breast cancer diagnosis slams into you with the subtlety of a freight train. You can’t breathe. You can’t think. And you can’t believe it’s happening to you. But it is. It happened to me. 


As women, we’ve been trained to get our yearly mammograms and do monthly self-examinations. If we’re conscientious, we follow those rules. As our fingers touch and examine , searching our breasts for the unusual, we pray they find nothing. In the radiology lab, we pray our mammos are clean. For one in seven, our prayers are not answered, and suddenly we are members of a sisterhood we didn’t ask to join.

Br Ca Blog icon 1

                                                                 I often wear this.

Although I’ve been part of that sisterhood for twelve years, I know relatively few “sisters” personally. That situation is changing. When I was first diagnosed in 2001, I was working a full-time day job which was integral to maintaining my sanity. Sticking to my familiar routines kept me rooted. When the ordeal ended, I continued to work, write, and pay attention to family and friends.  In 2011, the diagnosis arrived in the midst of our moving to the Tampa area, a thousand miles from our home in Houston. The side effects of chemo knocked me on my keister, and I just wanted to get through each day. Keeping the house spic-and-span ready for potential buyers was all that I could manage–and I even needed help with that.

Now that I am once more healthy and strong, I’ve connected with a national non-profit group that coincidentally is headquartered in Tampa called FORCE which stands for Facing Our Risk of      Cancer Empowered. This group is dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.

Hereditary is the key word that makes this group different from other research foundations devoted to breast cancer. FORCE concentrates only on hereditary cancer. Have you heard of the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes?  We all have them. For some ethnic groups, however, these genes have mutated and now cause big trouble–trouble such as breast and ovarian cancer. After being hit with a second tumor, I was tested for these mutations and learned that I carry the BRCA 1 gene mutation.

In two weeks, I’ll be attending a local get-together with other members of this sisterhood. I’m bringing Mike, my knight-in-shining tinfoil, with me. He’s been through it all. I hope I’m at the point where I can contribute to the strengthening of this force.

To learn more about hereditary breast and ovarian cancer: visit FORCE on Facebook or at their website:  www.facingourrisk.org. .

CONTEST NEWS!! I’m thrilled to add a fabulous prize to this month’s drawing. Five authors from OnFireFiction are offering a five story romance package called: Love Me Some Cowboy. each story is a full novel from Lisa Mondello, Jean Brashear, Day Leclaire, Barbara McMahon and Ginger Chambers. I’m a proud member of OnFireFiction and am happy to provide this terrific prize in addition to a copy of Family Interrupted

Post a comment and have your name added to this drawing. The contest runs through May 31st. 

Love Me Some Cowboy - 5 book package


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As always, thanks for stopping by. I hope to see you for the next edition of Starting Over.


4 thoughts on “Starting Over ~ A Sisterhood No One Wanted to Join

  1. Hi Linda,
    I had no idea about your second bout with breast cancer. I’m so glad to hear that you have beaten it once again. I’m also happy to hear that you are writing again. I still live in the dark ages without a Kindle or a Nook. I’m one of those people who like to have a book in my hand. What can I say. Even though I have all my contacts info in my phone I still keep an address book. It did come in handy though when I bought a new phone. The phone I had at the time was so old they couldn’t transfer the info. Retirement life seem to agree with you and Michael and you seem to have adapted to Florida life. Enjoy your fun in the sun.

    • Hi Lois — Great hearing from you. I’m here, alive and strong–and yes, we have adapted to Florida. Not too difficult after living in hot Houston. I hear you about technology. More than half my friends in this community want to hold a “real” book. There are a load of choices today, so have at it. Whatever your pleasure…just read and enjoy. Thanks for posting.


  2. Hi Linda,
    I was diagnosed with HER2 breast cancer just last June and also had a lumpectomy. Now I am almost finished with my treatments except for oral medication. I agree with you that when you are told about the diagnosis everything stops and becomes unreal. I empathize with you and chemo treatments. That was the worst part for me and I could not have done it without my husband. I called him my pole guy because he was right behind me with my IV pole as I raced to the bathroom during chemo. I am glad to hear about FORCE, I do not have a hereditary cancer gene but the American Cancer Center and my local hospital keep constant check on me offering help with transport, reference and organization material and even head coverings. I do wonder if I will ever feel that the cancer is gone forever.

    • Hi Donna – we have a lot in common, including good husbands. You called yours your pole guy, and I called mine, my knight in shining tinfoil – just so he wouldn’t become too full of himself 🙂 There is no substitute for a supportive family. I’m glad you’re in close contact with the ACS and local hospital. Even without the gene, if cancer runs in the family, you should be alert. And now you are alert. Your last statement is the one that sticks… When you’re told the chance of return is less than 5%, it seems you should relax and go with the flow of a busy life. I try to do that. I don’t think about breast cancer every waking minute or hour or even day. I’m busy living my life, writing and having fun. Is it in the back of my mind? Sure. I’m not an idiot. But I’ve done everything I can do – the big surgeries, chemo, radiation – the whole gamut. I see my oncologist every six months for check ups. My life is what it is, and if there’s something to worry about in the future, I’ll worry about it then. Today is for living!

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