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Old 07-26-2008, 08:46 PM   #1
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Default My family and cancer

First: I'm not sick. I'm not complaining, I'm not asking for sympathy. Prayers for my sister would be nice, but everything will be fine.

But man, my family really has it stacked against us. Let me explain.

I am one of 6 brothers and sisters. The oldest of us is 56, and the youngest is 47. Of the 6 of us, the three oldest have all had cancer. I've had a cancerous kidney removed, my older sister has had 2 types of cervical tumors removed along with a hysterectomy, and now my oldest sister has breast cancer and is having a dual radical mastectomy on Tuesday. It seems that we are doubly cursed. We've inherited Lynch Syndrome from my father, where a genetic flaw allows chromosomal mutations to go uncorrected; and my mother took diethylstilbestrol during her pregnancies, which has been linked to genitourinary cancers in the offspring. To make matters worse, my mother died of breast cancer, her father died of colon cancer, and my father has survived prostate cancer.

Geez. Now my brother and I have been advised to be screened for male breast cancer (via ultrasound), and we are to have colonoscopies yearly instead of every 5 years. As my sister who is having surgery Tuesday told me, "It's not enough to have your doctor tell you everything is OK. INSIST that they keep looking until they find something. It's counterintuitive to keep pressing after the doctor has said, 'don't worry'; but that's what you need to do. I didn't, and now here I am." She had mammograms twice a year, but her particular tumor doesn't show up on a mammogram. It was caught with a blood test for something else.

Having the big C really, really sucks, especially the time in between the diagnosis and the surgery, where you know it's growing inside you and you can't stand it; you just want it to be CUT. OUT. NOW. Of course, that is nothing, compared to the healing, then the radiation and the chemotherapy. But there is something almost unworldly about the dread; it makes life feel much more tenuous and fragile.

When you have an opportunity to help out, with a Poker Run, or a Drive to Survive, or anything where you can give a little bit of yourself, not necessarily money but maybe some time, see if you can give a little. It doesn't have to be much; a little plus a little plus a little is a lot, as a good friend of mine, Dave Sipus, once taught me. Dave died of pancreatic cancer this spring. He was in his mid 40s, but he was one heck of a good guy.

Sorry to go all downer on everyone at the beginning of the season, but this has been on my mind.


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