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Hurricane Ian

If this photo looks a little blurry, I apologize. I wasn't brave enough to open the sliding glass door that opens up to the lanai. Today marks a historic event. Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida as a Category 4 storm with 150 mph winds, storm surges up to 18 feet, and a whole lot of flooding and destruction. We're safe and out of the flood zone. And, thankfully, our condo is on the second floor and is made out of solid concrete; the windows haven't even rattled -- not once. Amazing. But as I write this, I'm struck by our lovely palm tree that I've grown so fond of. I'm not sure what type it is, but it has given us shade and privacy while we have lived here. Now it is being tossed around with the wind, sometimes bending to the left; other times, bending to the right. And just a moment ago, it bent so far over, I was afraid it would break due to the force of the wind.

It reminds me of a card that a dear friend sent me when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996. "You're like a reed bending to the force of the wind, but soon you will stand straight and tall again." The hurricane will pass, the debris will be picked up, people will salvage what is left of their homes, and the electricity will be restored. It will take time, but it will happen. Hurricane Ian will go down in the history books as a catastrophic storm -- both in size and intensity. There are other historical events today: National Sons Day (I have two) and probably something you've never heard of before: World Dense Breast Day (the last Wednesday in September). And what does that have to do with a hurricane? Nothing, really. That is unless you've been diagnosed with breast cancer and it was undetectable because your breasts were too dense--hiding cancer on a mammogram and sonogram. That is half of the female population. Yet, some women don't even know if they have dense breasts because they haven't asked. In many states now, it is mandatory that they let you know, so you can have a mammogram and ultrasound. And really the best test is a breast MRI with contrast. A hidden breast cancer didn't happen to me just once--but twice. A team of radiologists, an oncology surgeon and countless others failed to spot what I had already felt. They told me it was a "fat necrosis." If someone ever tells you that (radiologist or surgeon), demand a biopsy; otherwise, "Run Forest Run!"

Ironically, the same thing happened again in 2018 and I felt like our palm tree bending to hurricane force winds. I survived--not once, but twice. And I'm so grateful that all that bending didn't break me, but allowed me to stand straight and tall again. Today I also learned that Katie Couric, journalist, was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2022. She let her regularly scheduled mammogram go for six months due to the pandemic. I'm sharing this historic hurricane story to make a point: If you've let tests lapse due to the pandemic, let this be your warning. Right now, it's too late to evacuate. Those people who waited to let the storm pass are not in a situation where they can be rescued. Don't let that happen to you. As writers we're taught to tie up our stories with a nice neat bow at the end -- tying it all together. This is not one of those stories. This one serves as a warning with a time limit. Do it now. Whatever you've been putting off, now is the time to get it done. Sun is expected on Sunday. The sun always comes out after a storm and it will after Ian--maybe we'll even have a rainbow. Until next time,

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