Cancer. Cancer is frightening, there’s no doubt about it, and there was a time when I avoided even saying the word . . . “cancer.” And then in 1996 we were forced to say the word, “cancer” and deal with the disease. Cancer has touched our lives several times. First my father, then my mother, then me and most recently, my sister.
My father was diagnosed in 1996 after finding a large melanoma on his thigh. This cancer would be surgically removed and only then would we know the full extent of this cancer’s attack on our father and on our lives. I remember waiting with my sister and mother at St. Peter’s Hospital while the surgery was underway, with an unspoken question, “How far had it spread?” Once the surgery was complete, the doctor reported that a large area had been excavated in order to find “clear margins,” but they felt they’d gotten it all. My Dad has been monitored closely since then and keeps yearly appointments with his oncologist without recurrence. Thank God.
After that, again in 1996, my Mumzie, with uterine (endometrial) cancer now more than 13 years ago. We knew it was serious and Ma was scheduled for a hysterectomy. Ma’s surgery confirmed what we had hoped, that the cancer had been found early and that the cancer had not spread. She, too, has been monitored closely by her gynecological oncologist, without recurrence, Thank God.
By the time I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer in the fall of 2007 our family had been touch twice before and the word “cancer” had become a part of our vocabulary. My cancer was discovered when I started having some bleeding, hardly noticeable, yet I knew it was unusual. My instincts told me that I needed to get this checked out and I did. Procrastination could have been life-threatening and I somehow knew that I should act quickly. After a full abdominal hysterectomy and three rounds of radiation I too have regular appointments with my gynecological oncologist. Without recurrence, Thank God.
Finally, last year in September, my sister, was diagnosed with breast cancer detected during a routine mammogram. The tumor was small and a lumpectomy was scheduled. Diagnostic tests were required to pin-point the exact location of the tumor, followed by a lumpectomy and a marathon of appointments to administer the eight rounds of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation needed to eradicate this cancer. This cancer was aggressive and would be handled with an aggressive treatment. This past year has been a year of talking about cancer, saying the word and dealing with the reality that comes with a cancer diagnosis. Bet has just past the first milestone in her recovery and followup lifestyle, three months after her last radiation treatment an appointment with her oncologist, without recurrence, Thank God.
Cancer has changed us. Cancer. . . we now say it more easily, but are very aware of the life-changing effect it can have. Cancer has made us more aware of how precious life can be. Cancer has made us appreciate one another more. Cancer has prompted all of us to make life changes, while enjoying the here and now. Cancer has made us activists and fundraisers. No more armchair quarterbacking for us.
With a commitment to find a cure we will don our “Save The Ta-Tas” Tees (that’s our team name) and walk to raise money for cancer research tomorrow at our local event “The American Cancer Society 2009 Making Strides” in Albany, New York. I’m sure a cure can be found and it’s up to us to help in any way we can.
We speak of cancer, we walk to find a cure for cancer, cancer has changed us in profound ways.