It’s Like This By Bob Palmer

Life after breast cancer

The following is a column I wrote last year in recognition of national Breast Cancer Month. It is reprinted for the same reason.

Mary was 70 when she discovered she had breast cancer in 1989. The surgery was performed at Baylor Hospital in Dallas.

When she awoke, her husband of 43 years, R.B., was at her side with plans for their future.

“He brought the brochures with him to the hospital,” one of their daughters, Frances, recalled.

You probably already know that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You have undoubtedly been advised, whether you are male or female, to do self exams and to see a doctor regularly. Mary would certainly encourage you to take breast cancer seriously.

What today’s story is about, however, is what do you do next?

R.B. wanted that next step to be a special one. A constant pursuer of knowledge and a voracious reader, R.B. was a member of the Smithsonian Institution and received their monthly magazine. He spotted an ad for a “classical music tour” of Scotland. The group would stay in castles and titled estates. They would dress each evening in tuxedos and gowns and there would be chamber music to entertain them.

This wasn’t exactly R.B.’s cup of tea, but Mary would love it.

When R.B. asked my opinion about the trip and whether the $12,000 price tag was too high, my answer was simple.

“Dad, I think you and Mom should go.”

About a dozen seriously wealthy people made the trip.

“They kept asking me who I was and how I had managed to get on the trip,” R.B. said later.

Mary remembered the dogs.

Each home where they stayed and dined had a pack of dogs running around the house and sitting around the borders of the dining room while they ate. She also lapped up the music like a hungry kitten at a bowl of cream.

One home was owned by the Laird McLain who had served as liaison to Yugoslav guerillas during World War II. At a conference in Rome, he told R.B., he was accompanying Tito as they rounded a corner in the conference building and bumped into Winston Churchill and his party. Churchill’s men grabbed their guns. Tito’s men grabbed their guns. Churchill thrust his hand inside his jacket, then with a mischievous smile on his face pulled out a metal case. “Cigar?” Churchill asked Tito.

It was also the Laird who told R.B., “Now, Robert,…

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