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Monday, September 21, 2009

I Stand with Tevye

by Susan Hessel
(Also posted on Facebook)

I stand with Tevye
Do you remember that scene in the musical Fiddler on the Roof when Tevye looks up at the sky and says to G-d, “I know, I know. We are Your chosen people. But, once in a while, can’t You choose someone else?”
It’s a joke among Jews that we really didn’t need to be chosen in so many ways that we are. Now I get to add breast cancer to that list. Or do I?
It’s certainly how I felt when my doctor called me a few weeks back and told me that she and the breast radiologist had been talking and thought that because of my “ethnicity” they should go one step further and I should have a breast MRI.
“My ethnicity?” I asked.
“Yes, didn’t you know that Ashkenazic Jewish women are at greater risk for breast cancer?”
“I’ll convert,” I told my doctor, maybe only a quarter kidding at that moment. (And yes, I did tell my rabbi I said that. He laughed.)
“I don’t think that will work,” my doctor said to my suggestion of conversion. “It’s hereditary.”
“Ahh,” I said, “I’ll blame my parents.”
Of course, to blame my parents, who are no longer with me, would be tacky and inappropriate. It would open me to similar feelings from my kids. They chose lousy parents heredity wise, but that’s another story.
I am of Ashkenazic – Central/Eastern European Jewish descent. And yes, I do have breast cancer and am about to have a mastectomy. But who knows if it is genetic or something related to the environment or simply the flying fickle finger of fate (think Laugh-In television show in the 1960s).

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