When Life Throws You a 12-6 Curveball
July 20, 2023

Y’all know what a 12-6 curveball is? You do if you’re a baseball fan like me.

Imagine you’re at bat and you see the ball coming toward you. You can tell it’s not a 100-mph fastball and it looks like it’s just in the right place to connect with the sweet spot of your bat. You know you’re about to drive that ball over the center-field wall.

Except you don’t. Because just as you swing, the bottom drops out and the ball takes a nosedive. That’s why they call it a 12-6 curveball. It starts at the 12 o’clock position, then drops sharply to 6:00. That’s when you hear the whoosh sound that is your bat missing the ball. It’s a tricky pitch for sure.

I got thrown a curveball when I thought I had things in hand with the colon cancer diagnosis and went for my yearly mammogram. They said there was a suspicious area. Suspicious areas are not good things in medicine and I was not expecting that. As a 25-year breast cancer survivor, I thought I had it licked. But when I got the results of the mammogram, it felt like the bottom dropped out.

I did worst case in my head a thousand times. Worst case, I have both breast cancer and colon cancer in the same body. Thankfully the biopsy was negative, which means I’m down to one cancer. Not exactly a nice place to be, but one is better than two in this case.

The thing about curveballs is sometimes even the best hitters can’t connect with a well-executed curveball. Most of the time when someone hits one for a home run, it’s because the pitcher has hung the curveball, which means he has failed to get adequate spin on the ball to cause it to curve, or break. So it just floats right up there and gets knocked out of the park.

That is, if you’re prepared. If you’re off balance or not in the right position you won’t be able to hit a curveball or any other pitch for that matter. If you’re relaxed, alert, and have the information you need about the pitcher, you’ve got a much better chance.

So I think I’d have to say that breast cancer tried to throw me a nasty Uncle Charlie (baseball slang for a curveball), but hung it right over the plate for me and I hit it for extra bases.

The good news is that I’m pretty well healed from the colon cancer surgery, I don’t have breast cancer (again) and we are beginning to get back to a more normal routine. I feel much more like myself now and the other day Mom and I were going somewhere and it felt so good just to open the sunroof and see the sunshine. And Mom didn’t even seem to mind (she usually hates the sunroof).

This morning I saw my oncologist to get the treatment plan. Because there was one (out of 13) lymph node involved, I’ll be doing chemo — between six and eight treatments on a weekly basis for about three months or so. I pretty much knew that going in — my sister (a physician) had done some research so I knew what to expect. Chemo starts on August 8, but I have to have a port inserted before that.

They gave me a mini-tour of the room where they do the chemo infusions. It’s on the top floor of the building and has windows all around. Each patient gets their own recliner and it’s almost like a little personal cubicle of comfort. I can take my airPods and iPad or computer and get work done or just watch movies or videos. That doesn’t sound so bad at all.

During the worst of the waiting, as my sister and I were texting back and forth, we were joking about looking forward to our December cruise. I said I’m visualizing fruity umbrella drinks while gazing at the ocean and sent her a cute gif. So now every time I freak out, she’ll text me fruity umbrella drinks and I get that vision again and smile.

Today I’m thankful for (in no particular order):

  • The support of my family, especially Jim.
  • A wide circle of friends who care and actually read these silly blog posts.
  • My faith.
  • Our church community at Cornerstone United Methodist Church.
  • Modern medicine.
  • A great team of doctors.
  • A state-of-the-art treatment facility.
  • The beautiful flowers on my patio.
  • Snuggles from sweet Artie.
  • The New York Times crossword puzzles (current streak: 207!) that keep my mind alert.

I’ve been through a few rough patches in my life, and I’ve always found that there is still plenty to be grateful for. To focus on what we’re grateful for saves us from despair.

The curveballs are tricky and they can be scary and stressful. But because I’m pretty solid in my batting stance — my support system, relationships, and faith — I’ve got a darned good batting average against curveballs.

Previous cancer updates:


  1. Anonymous

    Praying for your full recovery. I admire your strength and resilience so much!!! Looking forward to celebrating the end of your chemo on a Thursday night this fall!!!!

    • beth g sanders

      Thank you so much for your kind comment. I’m looking forward to it too!


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