Breast Cancer and Battlestar Galactica

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					Breast Cancer and Battlestar Galactica
In October of last year, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and rushed
into surgery three days later. Thus began a journey that would change my
perceptions of what's important, and the strange realization that life is
a fragile miracle not to be taken for granted. It made me more determined
to hang on to life, something I saw on a science fiction show called
Battlestar Galactica.
President Laura Roslin is a character on the show, who's steely resolve
to deal with a larger catastrophe comes partially from her private battle
with breast cancer. When faced with the eventuality of her demise, many
things she used to be afraid of seem suddenly trivial. It was what
allowed this reserved, 43rd in line for the presidency, schoolteacher to
step into the role of President of the Colonies with hardly a shiver
after they are attacked by merciless machine creatures and their
homeworlds are destroyed.
The story revolves around taking control of your life, on both a personal
and larger level and it came along during a period when I felt completely
out of control. This science fiction epic has seen me through to the
cancer survivor I am today. It's so very much about taking control, but
also taking time for yourself, taking care of yourself and the
consequences of ignoring your body and spirit in pursuit of success,
money and power. Roslin, prior to be diagnosed, was a workaholic. Her
transformation is startling, as is anyone's who realizes they are mortal
and their time on this plain is finite.
How The Idea of Breast Cancer, Science Fiction & Battlestar Galactica
combined into a website, writing, blogging and a really fun hobby…

Breast cancer and Battlestar Galactica caught me totally off-guard and
sealed my allegiance to this complex science fiction television show. The
fact that the President of the Colonies had cancer on a SciFi show was an
odd combination to propose, but Ron Moore put it out there and thus into
our reality. President Laura Roslin is diagnosed early on in the series
with the deadly disease, and told that her options are few and her
chances slim to none. In the midst of this personal tragedy, she is
thrust into an immediate fight for her life and has to assume the mantel
of presidency while keeping secret her other silent enemy. Publicly, she
works with Commander Adama for the betterment of humanity as they flee
Caprica; privately, she battles the betrayal of her body as the cancer
spreads. She has to be devastated, but like many of us, she rises to the
immediate challenge – getting the remains of civilization to safety -
fighting privately with her fears and demons.
Three operations and too many frakkin cancer treatments later, I have
emerged a breast cancer survivor and a woman acutely aware of how little
time God gives us. The oncologist shook my hand a couple weeks ago, bid
me good luck and told me to make an appointment for 30 days out, three
months out and so forth. She handed me a prescription for hormonal
therapy pills, a number to call if I got upset and a business card if I
had any questions. I was burned, in pain, peeling, wearing a wig, and
recovering. Life was supposed to continue on as usual, right? I felt like
I'd been beat up by a bunch of Cylons. I wasn't the same person who went
to the doctor in October, so that was impossible? I think this is the
same with anybody who's survived a life-threatening illness.
What you do with that change is what makes the difference in your world.
Roslin has taken on leading the people to Earth as her personal quest
while stealing a few moments of private time and holding the political
structure together. We see bits and pieces of that with the President, in
between fighting with Adama and fending off Tom Zarek - she reads,
practices some form of candle therapy and seeks counsel from a spiritual
person. She is also being ravaged by the medications and pain killers;
and, we are left to wonder if she's chosen the right path. She didn't
want to die like her mother; will she die anyway?
As a survivor, it's a question I ask myself often. I've taken all of the
advice, made a choice, survived a course of treatment. Was it enough?
Will it come back and kill me in six months, a year, two years? Unlike
Roslin, I caught mine earlier on. Like Roslin, I have no choice but to
live my life to the fullest with whatever time I have left. Thank God,
I'm not Roslin, because she has to spend the bulk of her time running
from the Cylons. I just need to please my boss for eight hours and drive
home. Somehow, amidst all that chaos, she manages to snatch a couple
minutes for herself. And, that's what' it's all about. She borrowed one
of Cmdr. Adama's books, so we can presume she spent a bit of time reading
it. That's time for herself, and that's so extraordinarily important.
Breast Cancer and Science Fiction - Whole Again!
If you've been where I've been, and maybe you're still there, take heart
and take flight. Let them do what they must to save your life, but don't
let them steal your joy. As they work on your body, take your mind to the
next level, an alternative universe, a parallel dimension, to a
battlestar or starship and beyond. That's what science fiction and
fantasy will do, take a person out of the doldrums and allow them to soar
on the wings of imagination.
When things get rough, focus instead on your love of science fiction or
whatever is your passion. Like sitting in a hot tub, it will relax you
enough so that when your attention returns to the problem, it's more
manageable. While I was sick, it became breast cancer versus science
fiction. I have always loved Star Trek: TOS, TNG, DS9, Voyager &
Enterprise, and I rapidly got hooked on the new SciFi channel offering,
Stargate Atlantis, and because they addressed something I was in the
midst of fighting - breast cancer - was fascinated by Battlestar
I lived for Friday night; they weren't going to treat me again for two
days, and Stargate and Stargate Atlantis were coming on. Then, in January
2005, the much-hyped Battlestar Galactica series joined my mix. What
would happen to the President? She was dealing with it and functioning.
She was still alive and so was I. When I was too sick to move, I'd watch
these shows and remember what I used to adore. - writing fan fiction,
reading and watching science fiction and fantasy on television and in the
movies and dreaming about distant galaxies. It's been that way since I
was five. And, I realized that I had put that on the "back burner" for
years as I worked and lived, that is, until I was invited into hell
through cancer.
I pondered what could I do that really meant something to me. There was
nothing I could do about what the treatments except think about something
else. -- something fun, different - something I had a passion for that
would replace the misery. Without passion for a subject, any subject,
life quickly becomes an endless march towards death. And, I definitely
didn't want that. I had become a work-a-holic. I suspect that Laura
Roslin was one as well. I have no idea how that happened, but with that
knowledge, I had the power to change it. If you see yourself in this
boat, you have the power to get out before it sinks with you in it.
My new philosophy is, "Do what you need to do to sustain your existence,
then live to do what you enjoy to live your life."

Take the clarity I'd gained with breast cancer, combine it with my love
of science fiction, and - presto, magic - step into a lifestyle that
includes time for oneself, loads of laughter and a boatload of merriment.
Unfortunately, our stalwart Battlestar president doesn't have this
luxury. She can only snatch a few minutes here and there, but she does
that. If, in the middle of a run for her existence, the President in
Galactica can take a few moments for herself, what's our problem?
Science fiction fans with cancer - take heart!

I know there are many science fiction fans out there who are cancer
survivors. They say you are a survivor from the moment of diagnosis.
There are 10 million cancer survivors today, so you're not alone. Even if
only one other fan reads this and enjoys my website, blog or piece of fan
fiction, I will have accomplished my goal. To make you laugh; make you
think; encourage you to do something that's not about making money and
business, something you would work at even if you're never got paid a
cent for doing it, something to take you mind off whatever ails ya!
My passion is science fiction and fantasy and my wish is to share that
with others who may be suffering and need a break.
Judith Brandy is a longtime writer and lover of science fiction and
fantasy. A recent breast cancer survivor, her mission has become raising
breast cancer awareness in a fun and non-threatening way in the science
fiction and fantasy community as well as providing a haven for stressed-
out fans . Her website provides breast cancer information and links and
loads of SF information on Battlestar Galactica, Stargate Atlantis, SG-1,
fan fiction, SF polls; it’s sort of like she is providing a virtual hot
tub and good book to the global SF community.
Visit today and enter to WIN Battlestar or Stargate DVDs during October,
Breast Cancer Awareness Month