October 02, 2009

Cancer: Beat It!


So my good pal POD over at the blog Thufferin' Thuccotash reminded me that October 2nd is Livestrong Day, as well as POD's own two year anniversary of receiving a cancer diagnosis.


Happy "Guess What, It's Cancer!" Anniversary, POD!
(Photo: Valerie ReneƩ)

POD is celebrating this milestone by doing a Livestrong Event over at her blog, and she's asked other bloggers to join her today in blogging about cancer. As she explained:

"It is a way for bloggers to share their stories, poignant, devastating, thrilling, celebratory and triumphant. If you haven't been bulldozed by a cancer diagnosis, you can still participate. Write about a friend or post a prayer."

Well, I'm not not good at poignant or thrilling, and I'm lucky enough not to have been bulldozed by a cancer diagnosis myself. And I'm crap at prayers.

But still--who doesn't think cancer sucks?

So even though my list is lightweight compared to the heroic tales of cancer survivors, and the tragic losses experienced by many of you, I'll add my 2 cents. We need to raise awareness and wipe cancer out so no one ever has to deal with it anymore.

Five Reasons Why I Hate Cancer:

5. It's scary and unpredictable and sometimes fatal, and so even if we don't have it ourselves it's hard not to worry about getting it. Ever since watching "Brian's Song" and "Love Story" in my youth, a cancer diagnosis has always been my biggest health fear. I've long dreaded the day when some frowning doctor is going to look down at my lab results and say "I'm afraid I have some bad news."

And television shows and movies love cancer, it's a reliable plot device. This only magnifies the sense that cancer is lurking everywhere, waiting for that brief lull in the action when everyone is finally happy. Then, just when you think everything's ok: uh oh! You can pretty much guarantee that if a character has a funny bump or a cough that lasts more than 2 days, pretty soon they're going to be seeing that frowning doctor. And within a month or so, that character's going to show up wearing a headscarf and a brave smile.

4. Because I fear cancer, I tend to spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to avoid anything that might encourage it. Am I slathering on the wrong sunscreen? Drinking water out of the wrong containers? Is my cell phone poisoning me? Should I worry I'm getting mammograms too often or not often enough? What sort of preservatives are in that lunch-meat?

In a world without cancer, I think I'd spend more time reading novels and a hell of a lot less time scouring labels for scary ingredients.

3. It's so unfair: too many people do everything right and still get cancer. Many of my blogging friends have dealt with it, like POD and Reb and Missicat and I'm probably forgetting a bunch of others. And I've lost friends in their 30's and 40's who should still be alive today.

2. From what I understand, even if one is lucky and survives and becomes cancer-free, the whole process can be excruciating. The fear, the pain, the exhaustion, the drugs, the nasty side effects, the unpleasant procedures, the expense, the toll on family members and caregivers... I have no idea how those of you with cancer continue to stay so brave and positive and constructive.

I'd be all "why me!" and "this sucks!" and "it's not fair!" and "don't expect me to do anything difficult--don't you know I have cancer?!"

1. I never got to know my grandfather. He was a doctor in the military, and was just getting ready to go work on the hospital ship the SS Hope, in order to help save lives around the world. Instead he was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and it took him quickly. I was only two when he died and I wish I could remember him, but I can't. From everything I've heard, I missed out on what could have been a great and inspirational relationship.

So thanks, cancer. Thanks a lot.

This is not to say there aren't lots of other horrible diseases too, and I think they all should have their own official "we hate you, get lost" day. And why does our country seem to have endless resources to study the cheapest way to make potato chips, and still not enough to discover cures for terrible random diseases?

Grrr.

But there's also reason for optimism...



Every day we read about promising new cancer treatments being developed. There may not be a single "cure" yet, but there are a lot more weapons than there used to be. Hard working researchers toil away in their labs, looking for better ways to detect and treat cancer, and it all adds up.

Breast cancer death rates have been dropping about 2% a year, for example, and have fallen nearly 30% from a high in 1989.

Unfortunately, all that research takes money, and a sense of urgency, and enough political pressure to make sure the folks in Washington understand that curing cancer and other horrible diseases should be an important national priority.

So anyway, scoot on over to Thufferin' Thuccotash, and consider donating to a cancer-fighting or other disease-related charity if you've got some bucks to spare.

Oh and I'm doing a short post over at the Juice today on the same subject, since it's "give more, get more" week. (Which does not mean that if you donate more to fight cancer, you will get more cancer. I swear).

Got some good reasons to hate cancer, or some inspirational stories to share?

26 comments:

  1. Wow, I guess none of your readers hate cancer?
    This is a beautiful post, Crabby.
    Thanks. I'm off to the Juice and it's only 5:15am

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  2. Every person born into (not married into) my father's family for the past 3 generations who has died, has died from cancer of some form. Grandparents, cousins, uncles, aunts, and on further up the family tree.

    The genetics are stacked against me, his mom's side of the family has the high blood pressure/heart disease.

    My mom's family is not so cut and dried, but has had its share of cancer, too.

    Nothing much for me to do but diet, exercise, get check-ups, and pray.

    I had to watch a friend leave her two young kids behind. I am now watching another friend, whose husband died from cancer last year, get the diagnosis herself. She is a grandmother, and I had hoped she would be spared this at least.

    It spares no one.

    I agree, every disease needs an "I hate this disease day."

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  3. yay!! what a cool post!!

    and just so you don't feel bad, some days we ARE all "why me!" and "this sucks!" and "it's not fair!" and "don't expect me to do anything difficult--don't you know I had cancer?!"

    Actually I love that, laughed my head off - maybe I will make myself a T-shirt ehehh

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  4. Great post, Crabby. And you said you were no good at poignant or thrilling. Think again.

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  5. Cancer is scary. Just recently, the father of a childhood friend passed away due to cancer. It was very sudden - he went to the doctor, found out he had cancer and was gone within a few weeks. So very scary.

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  6. Crabby - wonderful post! I hate cancer, too.
    It took my mom away at far too young an age - there were still so many things I wanted to ask her (and there still are - "Hey Mom, what's with this menopause shit? How freakin' long is it gonna last, anyway?") but I can't.
    Freakin' cancer.
    It definitely needs this "I hate you" day!

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  7. Breast Cancer saved my life. As a lot of people know (and allow me to hijack your comments for a minute to advert) I am doing the 3 day walk for breast cancer awareness, research, funding, etc with the Susan G Komen foundation. I will walk (or try!) 60 miles over three days, NEXT WEEKEND!

    http://tinyurl.com/SGK3day

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  8. I like the idea of a "we hate you, get lost" day for every nasty disease - good idea!

    Great post...and I know what you mean about watching those movies - they scared me, too!

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  9. There's a lot of cancer in my family. I've lost family and some friends to cancer...I secretly wonder if I'm on the list of those who will get it. I try and look after myself as best I can.
    I too hate cancer, particularly because it doesn't have any logic in who it chooses to strike. Even people who look after them selves...kind and wonderful people who get it. Some beat it. Some do not. We're left behind to remember them.
    I do some cancer research to try and even out the karma levels in my life...this weekend is the local Breast cancer run. I've raised a few hundred dollars and I'll be out in the rain running...I hope that someday I won't have to do cancer research anymore. I get great encouragement from the people in where I work who deal with this and chemo and surgery and still smile. They wish *me* a good day! There's a strength you find in facing this down that brings cancer survivors a new indominable spirit. Perhaps it's the one good thing from it all :)

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  10. Great post Crabby! Cancer also took 3 of my grandparents either before I was born or shortly there after. (My mom's parents died within 6 months of each other, 2 different types of cancer, while she was still in high school. Talk about "this sucks!") It's also taken the rest of my mom's family...she's the only one left. We're both vigilant about our check-ups.

    I'm with you on the "I hate this disease" days! In fact, I think that's a much better approach than the "awareness" days. I'm damn aware. Where can I vent my anger?

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  11. I agree! cancer absolutely sucks. It took my mom and eventually will take my dad too.

    I'm donating $1 to the LAF for every comment I get on my post today. Please come over and help me spend my husband's money. (yes, shameless self promotion, but it's for a good cause!)

    http://workoutmommy.com/2009/10/02/today-is-livestrong-day-join-in-the-global-movement-to-end-cancer/

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  12. Cancer took my mom & aunt. It disfigured my grandmother, aunt, and cousin for life (all who had it twice now). My cousin was 29 when she was diagnosed. F cancer! I hope this month inspires people to support cancer research and the many awesome cancer survivors spreading the meassage!

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  13. OH, and my good friend had it starting at the age of 23. Super F cancer.

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  15. Great post and all these comments are very poignant too.
    Lets all hope we can crack this disease, and soon.

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  16. You are all right about it. It stinks. Please, though, don't let anxiety about it take up much of your time. I was diagnosed with a brain cancer 11 years ago. I was one of the few who hear that diagnosis who are still around this many years later. I can't quite say I am glad to have had the experience, but it's not all bad.

    For one thing, it helped me figure out how much I like being in shape. It helped inspire me to take better care of myself - not because I think I can ward off a recurrence, but because it improves the quality of every single day - yes, even the ones where the muscles ache!

    But even more, it gave me prespective. Let's be realistic here. Spending energy on your fear of cancer does not make a whole lot of sense. Do you quiver every time you get in a car - could be an accident, after all? Do you feel anxious every time you cross the street? Some drivers really don't look where they're going. Do you hesitate to travel to remote locations? To hike along steep trails, maybe near cliffs? To try out cool new sports?

    Life is full of risk. Some we can control, some we can't. Some we hope to avoid, some we embrace.

    So fight cancer, and make sensible choices about your daily life (well, most of the time, anyway). But don't, don't don't give it extra power by allowing it to occupy your mind, to leave you fearful, to make your days in any way less full. It does not deserve that kind of respect.

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  17. I heard from POD & did a post myself on today. I have lost family members to cancer & those that have read me know all about my mom & her death from liposarcoma. Today is also my mother-in-law's bday & she died from small cell lung cancer.

    To all the survivors & those we have lost, let's beat this thing!

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  18. Cancer is the sword that hangs over all of us and cuts many of us!

    My mother died this past April from cancer. It was terribly painful.

    I wish I could believe that research and new treatments would make a real difference, but I don't.

    I feel we know what would help with prevention, but as a society are unwilling to make the needed changes, as it would be "inconvenient" to our lifestyles. I suffer with society's choices :-(

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  19. Great post! I told my boss today that if I ever have to hear such news, I want him to deliver it. I overheard him today on the line with a patient (a rarity since we don't see patients). He was giving the unfortunate news. He gave it matter of factually, laid out all the options, and made it all sounds as harmless as a bee sting. Now, don't get me wrong - we know better. But it was just the way he delivered it! And I told him as much.

    He said his father told him that a doctor's job is to cure a few, heal some and comfort all.

    So I hope for those who have been diagnosed that you are in good hands with a great physician and find comfort in your family, religion, work, or what-have-you.

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  20. Oh, some powerful comments here Crabby. Great post and yes, it should be "I hate (Insert name of disease here) day/month", instead of awareness.

    It would be nice to think that we will see an end to cancer in our lifetimes, but I just can't be that optimistic. Maybe some of the younger readers, or maybe the next generation will though.

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  21. Cancer took my father from me... he lived less than a year after he was diagnosed with a malignant glioblastoma brain tumor. My sister-in-law is fighting breast cancer. I lost a good friend to pancreatic cancer. It's one very scary disease.

    But all we can do is take care of ourselves and live our lives the best we can.

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  22. Breast cancer killed my mother at age 32 and my grandmother at age 31. Cancer killed my mom's brother when he was in his mid-30s.

    I had genetic testing in 2000. When I found out that I had the BRAC1 genetic mutation, giving me a 70% chance of getting breast cancer by age 70, I had a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction. Drastic? Some may think so, but I am now 45 and my daughters still have a mother. I'd do it all over again in a second.

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  23. Right now, my dog is part of a groundbreaking clinical study on Glioma brain tumors. This study has so far been successful in CURING 100% of the dogs that have been involved; dogs that have tumors that heretofore always been considered terminal.

    The researchers are hopeful that they'll start clinical testing on humans in the next year. As they learn more, they truly believe this could be a viable cure for any soft-celled tumorous cancer. That would include brain, breast, lung, skin, etc.

    There is hope, and it could be as close as right around the corner! My dog would be dead right now, instead he's a happy, so-far healthy pup.

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  24. Cancer doesn't affect just one person. Cancer affects couples, families, and friends. The complex feelings and lifestyle changes that follow a cancer diagnosis can be almost as overwhelming for family members and friends as they are for the person with cancer.

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