Sunday, March 18, 2012

World Cancer Day


There isn't much I can say that hasn't been said about cancer.  I'm not a researcher, and don't know much more about it than most people.  The only thing I can really address is my personal experience with cancer.  The thing that strikes me most is when someone is diagnosed with cancer, all their family and friends suffer too.  The daily ups and downs, gains and set backs are agonizing, for the patient certainly, and for everyone who loves and cares for them.  I say the gains can be agonizing too, because one never knows when it will be snatched from you, there is always the "what if"  and "when will" in the back of one's mind.  For with cancer, it seems nothing lasts forever, and one learns to live with uncertainty - the uncertainty of whether one is cured, if it will ever come back.

I've had some friends, neighbors, coworkers and even cats with cancer, but today I'm going to talk about my parents, both of whom have had cancer.  Currently my mom is undergoing chemo for leukemia.

My dad underwent chemo for colon cancer the summer before the World Trade Center was destroyed.  I mentioned to a coworker because, other than having a few colds over the decades, my dad didn't know what it was like to be sick.  I thought because of that he wouldn't go through all of with his chemo.  She actually became quite angry with me for saying that, but I was right.  He only did half of the treatment.  He was lucky; he hasn't had a recurrence.  Still, during that abbreviated time, the unexpected would happen, horrors cancer has instore that one wouldn't have guessed at.  Once he went to the hospital for chemo and they discovered blood clots in his legs.  He wasn't allowed to leave because at any minute the clots could break up and lodge in other parts of his body and kill him.  Dealing with cancer is bad enough, but it finds horrible side effects to throw one's way.

My mom had breast cancer in the 1980's and had chemo.  In 2003 she was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a form of pre-leukemia which can be caused by previous chemotherapy.  Just before Christmas we found out it had transformed into AML (Acute Myeloid, or Myelogenous, Leukemia).  The beginning of January the specialists at Johns Hopkins gave her 2-3 months with no treatment and 4-6 months with treatment, with a 30% chance of responding to treatment.  Unfortunately because of her age and prior MDS, they have no effective treatment, and no cure.  She just finished her 3rd round of a clinical trial drug, Vidaza, and the results have been amazing.  Both her white blood cells and platelet counts are normal!  Her red blood cells are good enough that she no longer needs transfusions (at least for the time being).

How hard January and February were!  She spent most of the time in the hospital.  She developed gout from being dehydrated.  She caught a nasty staph infection that wouldn't clear up, even with Cipro (remember they used Cipro during the anthrax attacks).  Her platelets were so low a small bump could have killed her.  She had to have red blood cell and platelet transfusions every day.  It was one thing after another, and no one really believed she would ever come home.  How thankful we all are that she has!

How long will it last?  Who knows.  Will the future be smooth?  Probably not.  But how grateful we are for this reprieve, however short it may be.

This World Cancer Day my prayers are for everyone suffering the effects of cancer - the patients, their family and their friends.  God bless and comfort you all.  May God guide the researchers that one day this disease will just be an ugly memory.

18 comments:

Sparkle the Designer Cat said...

Paws up for your parents - no matter what happens in the future, they are miracles in their own way.

Lucy the Cat said...

Oh my. I'm so sorry about your parents but what miracles have taken place for both of them! Cancer is so insidious. All the other side effects and complications are so scary in addition to the disease itself.

Thanks for your note. We're moving in May, across country once again but now with three kitties. Yikes!

Katie and Da Katz said...

Plz purr fur the Mom... hur has to haves a biopsy and hasnt dun it yets

fanks.

katie kitty too

Katie and Glogirly said...

Oh, we are sending lots of prayers and purrs for your parents. We like think Sparkle is right. Your parents are VERY special.
xoxo
Katie & Glogirly

Hannah and Lucy said...

We are so sorry that your parents had to go through all this - but at least they have beaten this evil beast.
Luv Hannah and Lucy xx xx

Fuzzy Tales said...

Sparkle said it so well.

Purrs to your parents...and to you as well.

Marg said...

Cancer is so very hard. That was such a good post. I have cancer too but am all right at the moment. We certainly send your Mom many purrs. Take care.

The Island Cats said...

We are purring for all of those affected by cancer. Cancer really stinks.

Brian said...

We all send tons of purrs to your Mom and Dad. We must defeat this evil monster.

Cat said...

Your parents will be in my prayers.

My brother died last year after a fourteen month battle with cancer. I understand very well what you have said here about how difficult it is on the families as well as the person afflicted. I dream of a world without cancer and what a wonderful place that would be!

Katnip Lounge said...

I have had your Mom in my thoughts and I'm so happy that her treatment worked...for however long that is. Because every single day, every hour, is a gift.

brandi said...

Purrayers are being sent for your parents.
Mama wasn't that lucky. Her mom died when mom was 13, a long long time ago.
One of the before kitties had cancer too.
And a couple of mom's friends.
Nasty, nasty, stomp on it!
We all want cancer to STOP.

Katie Isabella said...

You have given us all something vital to think about, pray for the end of, and to do all we ourselves can to help fight against this most evil and insidious of destroyers.

Many warm hugs and blessings to your parents.

Ginger Jasper said...

My purrs for your parents too.. Hugs to all... GJ x

Jewel said...

Purring for both your parents, and hoping that they continue to be well.

ABBY said...

What a beautiful moving posting. We are so sorry for the struggles your Mom is going thorough. We will continue to keep her in our prayers and the kitties all send their healing purrs.
purrs
>^,,^<
♥Abby♥Boo♥Ping♥Jinx♥Grace♥

Ryker The Tonkinese said...

oh we are so sorry to hear about the trials your parents have had to endure. Softpaws to you and your family....

Eric and Flynn said...

We send our purrs to you and your parents, and to all those affected by the evil that is cancer.