I Already Gave

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"Do you wish to donate to breast cancer?" I stared at the question on the credit card transaction display.

My first reaction was "Whaaaat? Where were the words 'donate to prevent' or 'donate for research against?" I looked again. It simply read, "Donate to breast cancer." I was frozen in place, staring at the display, considering the awful question if maybe I wanted to give money to propagate breast cancer. The cashier interrupted my spell by suggesting I simply donate a dollar. For breast cancer.

It wasn't worth explaining. "No," I said and slid my credit card through the reader.

The cashier wouldn't give up. He asked me to donate my spare change.

Angry, I turned to face the man.


"I already gave," I said.

The cashier shrugged his shoulders with a "suit yourself" type motion.

I exploded. "I've had breast cancer," I said. "One month of radiation cost $40,000. I know, and you know how I know because my radiologist accidentally billed me instead of my insurance company. So extrapolate these costs: two lumpectomies with one malignant tumor and one not, four rounds of chemo, six weeks of radiation and a brief stint in the hospital because my surgeon accidentally punctured my lung trying to put in a port-a-cath for my chemo."

The cashier stared at me open-mouthed now. The line behind me was deathly quiet. I felt like a fool, and sobbed like a child on my way home.

And the sad fact is it's been 10 years since I've had breast cancer. You would think the nerves surrounding that ordeal would be less raw and more forgiving. But they're not, and I really wish I had the where-with-all to write the corporate office of that grocery store and tell them to quit begging for cancer money on their credit card displays.

Some of us have given all we can.

With a Perspective, this is Wichita Sims.

Wichita Sims lives by the beach in sunny Pacifica.