Archives For Cancer Diagnosis

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Then

As most of you know, my daughter had another tumor removed last July. This was her second occurrence of leiomyosarcoma. She had a liver resection. Two institutions opined that it could not be determined if it was a new primary tumor or Stage IV as the cells of leiomyosarcoma were exactly the same. She was 6 months shy of her 5-year anniversary.

As a parent, at first I was first in warrior mode, then caregiver mode and then when the dust had settled became completely distraught. I have complex PTSD and this event was a trauma trigger on the magnitude of an 8.0 earthquake collapsing the entire house. I went into the usual grieving over whether she would live or die. I had to wrestle with Can I stand by and watch my daughter die from this? Would I rather be dead? Even after all I had been through, fighting to live, living through my first husband’s death, could I do this again? I asked myself these questions and more. Continue Reading…

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March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month. I don’t know why it is not called Colorectal Awareness Month.

It is only the middle of the month as I write this and the ‘colon’ has been everywhere in my life. I have Li-Fraumeni Syndrome and a predisposition to cancer – basically anywhere – with a multiple family member history of colon cancer and precancerous polyps. The screening protocol for my Syndrome recommends biennial screening with a colonoscopy after age 40 or beginning 10 years before the age of any family member with a history of colon cancer.

So on March 5th I began my FIVE-day prep for my biennial colonoscopy. This was the 4th or 5th time I was Continue Reading…

IMG_1185As you may or may not be aware, I have not been ‘out’ much lately. I am trying to come to grips with the latest cancer ordeal in our family. I’ve been digging in the dirt, watching mindless television, reading and shockingly – cleaning my house.

I have been saying that I am grieving. Grieving what? Am I grieving a dream, a vision of the future, an expectation? I realized that I’m not really grieving although it can feel pretty bad. Continue Reading…

Leiomyosarcoma

The wave is coming!

There has been so much going on since my last blog post necessitating my absence. In July, from a biopsy, my daughter was diagnosed with a leiomyosarcoma in her liver. This required finding a liver surgeon to determine if this was operable, while all of her and my usual doctors were on extended vacations. We knew the wave was coming and were trying to strategize how to get to the highest ground to be able to survive the hit. Continue Reading…

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On July 5th while my husband and I were visiting New York City we decided to go downtown to Ground Zero and see the new ‘Freedom Tower’, the ‘Memorial’ fountains and the 9/11 museum. It was a pure coincidence that we were the there the day after Independence Day and not one that the Freedom Tower was designed to be 1,776 feet tall. That day was also the day after the anniversary of the death of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, both signers of the Declaration of Independence.

My husband and I met while working at One World Trade Center and here we were almost 27 years later peering into the fountains contained within the footprints of One World Trade and Two World Trade. I stood mesmerized as the water cascaded over granite walls and fell into infinity. Etched into the perimeter of each fountain were the names of those who died in the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and 1993. The fountain memorial was very profound and moving. For me it was symbolic of the collapse of the buildings and the vacuous plunge to a state of death and then infinity. It also reminded me of the initial and long-lasting hole left in the heart after the death of a loved one. Yet even still I mused that water was symbolic of life. I also noticed that the fountains were surrounded by rows of mighty oak trees outlining the outside footprint of the missing buildings. Continue Reading…

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It has been a couple of weeks since my last post.

There has been much going on in my little microcosm in a corner of The Nation of Cancer during the past four weeks.

First of all, my Aunt Marion of whom I wrote about in my last post, was diagnosed and has since died of metastasized lung cancer. From the time of actual diagnosis to hospice to death was less than three weeks. It was quite a bit to deal with for all concerned both near and far. Her funeral is Monday.

Yes, she was 84. She lived three years longer than the U.S. average life expectancy. But while living those amazing 84 years, she battled bladder cancer, uterine cancer and lung cancer previously. She had much of her end-of-life plan in place and most of her wishes were made known to her loved ones. She tried to sing ‘Somewhere, Over the Rainbow’ less than 48 hours before her death. She reached to hug her dead grandson less than 24 hours before her death. She waited for her eldest daughter to leave the room, and then she died. Continue Reading…

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As many of you know, getting a diagnosis of cancer, dealing with the treatment and its aftermath, is a very unique experience. Even being in the role of a caregiver or friend of someone that is diagnosed, is very different than the actual experience of dealing with all the issues of having it and being forced to look at one’s own mortality.

It has now been roughly four weeks since the release of my book “A Kick-Ass Fairy” and the reactions from friends, family, acquaintances and people I don’t even know have been all over the board.

I am pleased to say that there have been many very strong positive reviews, even from people who don’t mention that they have ever had cancer. Then there have been a number of friends who have told me if they bought the book, they would be afraid to read it. Even without reading it, they are afraid they will get ‘depressed.’

Well this is very unfortunate for all members of The Nation of Cancer.

The people who are afraid to read an inspiring testimony of dealing with cancer may be the same people who hide in their shells when someone they know is diagnosed with cancer. Maybe this may be because they don’t know what to say.

If you don’t know what to say to someone who has cancer, then tell the person just that: “I don’t know what to say!”

Maybe some of the fearful folks think if they pretend life is all sunshine and rainbows, then magically they will elude any hardship and will control whether or not illness, especially cancer will befall them. It has been my observation that the avoidance of difficult situations and topics does not necessarily make a person happier, but it can definitely make them shallower.

I have lived for twenty years with the experience of cancer. I have friends and some family, including my daughter, that have made it through, against all odds. I also know many friends that have not made it, sunshine, rainbows and every other available remedy at their disposal. Sickness is a part of life and everyone dies. Oops – a balloon buster!

I have Li-Fraumeni Syndrome, an autosomal dominant mutation of the major tumor suppressor gene of the DNA – P53 – known as the ‘guardian of the cell’. This mutation is in every cell of my body. I already have had 5 cancers and two-hands-full worth of rare, benign tumors. I was recently asked ‘do you live your life worried about getting another cancer?’ The answer is NO. I live my life with passion, vigor and the realization that we can take the challenges that life presents us and do something with them.

That is exactly what I am trying to do and am hopefully succeeding!

If you are a person that wants to be an ostrich and put your head in the sand, I say, “Good for you!” But you are not helping the cause of a cure for cancer nor are you in anyway honoring the people that have or have had cancer. If you are afraid that looking at someone with cancer will make you feel bad, then you need to look at your own issues of mortality. If you don’t want to reach out to those who suffer and lend a hand, (for whatever reason), well, what can I say, other than, if you do nothing, than at least do no harm!

Finally, if you have never had cancer, you are very LUCKY!

I don’t know one person, and I know hundreds of people currently dealing with cancer – not one person actually wanted this to happen. So for the ones that choose to see only the light and rainbows – again I say, ”good for you!” I hope your life continues to be without issues and is blessed with good fortune.

I love my life just the way it is!

What do they say: ‘Ignorance is bliss’ but unfortunately, it is still ignorant!

How do you feel about people that think or tell you your life is too depressing?

 

(Image credit: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/photo_15936746_ostrich-hiding-its-head-in-the-sand.html’>dedmazay / 123RF Stock Photo</a>)

 

 

 

survivor not just

 

I was diagnosed with my first cancer in 1993. At that time the term ‘cancer survivor’ was in its youth. Prior to that, I was widowed in my mid-twenties. I remember that in the newspaper, my husband’s obituary stated, “…he is survived by his parents, his wife and daughter.” Somehow I got lost in the wording there as well. But I was a survivor before I was a survivor, if you know what I mean.

What is a Survivor?

According to Dictionary.com the term survivor is defined:

sur·vi·vor [ser-vahy-ver]

noun

1. a person or thing that survives.

2. Law. the one of two or more designated persons, as joint tenants or others having a joint interest, who outlives the other or others.

3. a person who continues to function or prosper in spite of opposition, hardship, or setbacks. 

The origin of the word from the Etymology online dictionary:

c.1500, in the legal sense of “one who outlives another,” agent noun from survive. Meaning “one who has a knack for pulling through adversity” is attested from 1971. Survivor syndrome is first recorded 1968.

(Source:http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=survivor&allowed_in_frame=0)

My favorite is from the ‘Urban Dictionary’ where survivor is defined as:

The greatest TV Show… since… well… ever. I play Survivor online… does that make me a loser?

(Source: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=survivor)

The History of the term Cancer Survivor

In 1985, The New England Journal of Medicine published Dr. Fitzhugh Mullan’s poignant account of his own diagnosis and treatment for cancer. In that article, Dr. Mullan defined three primary seasons of cancer survivorship, which he termed “acute survivorship,” “extended survivorship,” and “permanent survivorship” Continue Reading…

I am a 56-year-old woman living in California, and I have had multiple cancers. My daughter has had cancer. Many family members and friends have died of cancer and even more have been treated for it.

Everywhere I turn I know someone who knows a child just diagnosed, a sister, a father. You get the point!

The point is – is that CANCER is an epidemic!

THE INCIDENCE OF CANCER

Below is a map of global cancer incidence.

Cancer Incidence worldmap

(Source: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-info/cancerstats/world/the-global-picture/cancer-overall-world). To download PDF see http://publications.cancerresearchuk.org/cancerstats/statsincidence/worldmap.html

I find it interesting that this website and chart present data from 2008. Where is the current data? It is now five years later. If I look at the World Health Organization’s website or the National Cancer Institute’s website, the information is from 2008 as well. I don’t want to allude to any conspiracy – but now living in the digital and information age, I have to wonder – isn’t this information important? Hopefully, there will be an update this year.

According to the Cancer Research Institute report:

“The incidence and mortality statistics presented here for cancers worldwide were taken from the International Agency for Research on Cancer GLOBOCAN database (version 1.2), which presents estimates for 2008 and also the World Health Organization Global Health Observatory and the United Nations World Population Prospects report.” Continue Reading…