COUPLE

I have this terrible habit that I must break. 

Wake up. Open eyes (barely). Extend my arm above my head and bang around the top of the headboard/shelf a few times. Feel the hard case of my mobile smart phone. Bring phone within 1-inch of my face because I can’t find my glasses. Enter password. Click on “Facebook”. Check for notifications. 

 

A newer, better version of Liza would and should do the following instead:

Wake up. Sing joyfully at another lovely night of blissful sleep. Give thanks for the air I breathe and the privileges I have each day. Inhale deeply and start my day with intention. And glide graciously throughout the rest of the morning with a smile on my face. 

 

Nah…. back to the old Liza:

 

This morning, my “notifications” read “18”. Eighteen?? Seriously?? What the heck is going on in the world today? 

 

Still groggy, all I saw was “Angelina Jolie” and “mastectomy”. 

 

I lied. 

 

All I saw was “Jolie” and “mastectomy.”

 

I nearly threw up. 

 

Nine years ago, my husband and I gave birth to a beautiful, premature, and strong baby girl. Combining our two names together, we came up with “Joli.” As we introduced her to the rest of the world, people sent us cards with “Welcome to the world, Jolie!” People who weren’t sure what her name was (“Did she say JUlie? Was it JUliA? Did they pronounce it Zhooh-lie? Was it JOE-LEEE?”). I often said, “Joli(e) like Angelina Jolie.”

 

Throughout her life, my daughter’s name has morphed. JOH-Lee. Jo-LEEE. Most days, she’s just Jo or JoJo. 

 

When I told people about the (Angelina) Joli(e) part, I said it was because Angelina Jolie is this neat blend of bad@$$, beautiful, humanitarian, kinda weird, mysterious, and unafraid combination — all qualities I had hoped for my own daughter. Back in 2003, Angelina Jolie seemed to always be in the news. She had just released Tomb Raider and her film career was in swing. Two years later, the news would follow her and Brad Pitt around and the Brangelina days began. 

 

I was less interested in the tabloid gossip about her life and more humbled by her global engagement. Folks can judge why, how, or for what reasons she adopted so many children or married Brad Pitt, or I dunno, kissed her brother on the lips, but frankly I wasn’t that interested in the drama. She was, and still is, a pretty kickass woman.

 

There is plenty of news out there about Angelina Jolie’s coming forth about her BRCA1 genetics and her decision to undergo a bilateral mastectomy. You can read plenty of it online and likely catch it on a news show (I’m guessing she’ll do the talk show circuit or something, too). So I’m not going to spend time here writing about it. 

 

Marathon b4 Mastectomy has always been a place where I wrote openly about my experiences as a BRCA previvor. It has also been a place where my kids can go back and read what it was like for me.

 

And, I’ve done it with the full knowledge that they all have a 50% chance of being BRCA1 as well. 

 

That one day, in case I forget what this was all like, they can go back and see what it was like for me. 

 

Though they share the same genetic mutations, my children won’t need to read the Angelina Jolie version or the Kara DioGuardi version. They might find more comfort reading about their mom, they aunts, their mom’s cousins, and one day, maybe, have to write their own.

 

This is why seeing the words “Jolie” and “mastectomy” took my breath away. It was a glimpse — perhaps — into the next generation of writers. 

 

Like many who tweeted, retweeted and shared on Facebook, I, too, sent a message to Angelina Jolie. I thanked her for coming forward and welcomed her to the club (cue club music and flashing disco lights!). 

 

I’m not naive. She won’t read it. She won’t even see it. 

 

BUT, I DID SEE YOURS. I saw the many messages, Facebook tags, emails and texts you sent me today. I saw the smiles on the faces of people I ran into at work — a place where I have been openly BRCA for 3 years now.  And, an extra bit of joy filled my heart when BRCA previvors — who found strength through this blog — felt a little less alone today. 

 

Today, you called me a hero. A superstar. That I “was famous for this before Angelina Jolie was”. And that I had “always had a lot in common with Angelina Jolie, now I have even one more thing.” And that, “Angelina Jolie may have made it public to the world, but Liza Talusan was the first one to tell me about it.”

 

To know that this blog has touched the lives of so many is humbling. To know that this blog has raised your own awareness about BRCA has meant that we are all — together — changing the world.

 

Because of you, we are not surprised by BRCA anymore. Because of you, we embrace the tough choices people have to make about surgeries, prevention and recovery. Because of you, cancer caused by BRCA can be detected early or even prevented. 

 

Thank you for being on this journey with me.

 

You are my Brad Pitt. 

 

Together, we are a power couple.

 

Peace, love, and bad@$$ery,

Liza

 

 

 

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One Response to COUPLE

  1. I learn so much from you each time and now even more. I wonder how many times I said or spelled Joli wrong? BUT having been told that even though I have a high risk of breast cancer, my insurance will not cover the $3000 test. I am so angry with the company that sells it, not for only me but for all the others who need it. My eyes and ears are waiting for the Supreme Court decision, and early reports do not look good. So high five for Angelina and low five for the women who are being cheated of this test….

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