With cancer of any type, one must steel themselves against the constant barrage to your mental state. If you are one who is weak, you had better learn to stiffen your upper lip, as there will be a constant assault on your sanity after a cancer diagnosis. If you are not tough, you had better get tough, life is not always fair, and cancer is a heartless bitch.
Loraine and I have been through a living hell over the last year because of cancer. FIrst we took in her brother Howard who was terminally ill with liver cancer which was brought on by end term Hepatitis C, and then she received her own diagnosis of breast cancer last fall. As we were taking care of all of Howards needs as he was slipping in and out of different stages of dementia, we still had Loraines battle to face. Life has been a bitch in our home, and we have to keep faith it will get better. We have to, and will keep fighting as hard as we can against this ruthless disease. Otherwise, it is going to kick our asses each and every day if we allow it to bog us down. Cancer shows no mercy to anyone, ever.
I sure wish there was a cure for cancer!
How often do we think this, or hear others say they wish there was a cure. Pretty damn often for some of us for sure. But, there is not going to be a “cure” just anytime soon despite some people beating it.
If all the positive cancer breakthrough headlines are to be believed, then the cure for cancer is right around the corner. But that is a far cry from reality, says Dr. Jørgen Olsen, head of research at The Danish Cancer Society.
“I think it’s an illusion to imagine that after millions of years of this disease we’ll suddenly find a solution. I don’t think that we’ll ever beat it, but I think that we’ll get it under control so that it becomes chronic but not deadly,” says Olsen. (1)
But why can’t we find the secret weapon to beat cancer once and for all?
One reason is that cancer is not just one disease–even individual tumors can vary substantially from one patient to the next and the same type of tumor in different parts of the body can respond differently to medication. Just like any other organism, cancer cells are trying to survive, and they are very good at it. They quickly spread to multiple parts of the body, and they mutate constantly, rendering existing medicines ineffective. Cancer cells are very adaptive, especially when the cancer is at an advanced stage.
There are some similarities between cancer and the principle of evolution. Evolution is driven by natural selection, which means that organisms or cells that survive long-term are those that can adapt when their existence is challenged. As with the use of antibiotics to kill infections, the cells which survive cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, will often restore the disease after treatment, but now in a more aggressive form that is now resistant to treatment. Then you need a new treatment and the story repeats itself until nothing more can be done. I will never forget the sick feeling in my gut as Howard’s oncologist informed him that nothing more could be done for him and he was recommending end of life palliative care. This was on a Friday, Howard passed away on Sunday, 48 days after my dear Loraine had underwent her double mastectomy for breast cancer. Her radiation treatments are going to be over next week. Cancer is an evil bitch to everyone involved to say the least.
Loraine’s radiation treatments are coming to a close. What’s next?
My sweetheart wrapped up her fifth of six weeks of radiation treatments on Friday. Afterwards, she had a visit with her medical oncologist who informed her there were three new lumps which were not present a month ago. She was in tears when she called me while I was out on the road, and it was all I could do to not pull my semi over to the side of the highway and have a good cry myself.
Life is not fair and cancer is a bitch!
Because of the Covid-19 virus, Loraine has had to go to all of her treatments and doctor visits without me over the last couple of months. She has needed me to be there for her, but the medical facilities will not, nor can they, make exceptions for anyone. The only people allowed inside has been the patients themselves. This is cruel as one who has cancer truly needs their emotional support when consulting with their doctors. We both understand this necessity, but we both need to hear from the doctor exactly what is happening and what the protocols will be going forward. Cancer assaults your emotions and with the overwhelming amount of information there is to absorb, it is best for a patient’s loved one to be present during their doctor visits. The best we can do for Loraine’s next visit is that I will take her and then wait in the parking lot to be there when she comes out. We will use video conferencing on our phones in order that I can be as present as humanly possibly.
Next week, the medical oncologist wants to discuss how we are going to move forward with treatments. She has suggested that Loraine participate in a clinical trial, that Loraine is the perfect candidate for it. She also wants Loraine to get a Dexa Scan and a sonogram as soon as possible before the next visit. Friday, she was even trying to get Loraine in for these on the same day if possible. Since she did not get in, hopefully we will get this done on Monday. This is a bit unsettling to say the least, but we have to keep faith that all will turn out well. Without faith, there is no hope. Without hope, there is no fight. We are fighters!
It’s important to remember that prevention and early diagnosis are key players when it comes to putting the brakes on cancer. Part of the fight against cancer is to try to prevent it developing in the first place, or at least to develop early detection techniques to spot cases in time to stop the disease before it mutates and spreads. Quite often, people develop cancer because of avoidable habits or lifestyle factors such as smoking, sunbathing without protection, unhealthy diet, exposure to HPV infections, or carcinogenic substances, and radioactivity.
We may not always be able to prevent ourselves from getting cancer, afterall, bad stuff happens to good people every day. However, we can live our lives in a way that we can proactively try to mitigate our chances of developing any type of cancer. If you do not realize this, you should understand that once you’ve been baptized in the fire of cancer your life as you knew it will be irrevocably changed. The apparent randomness of a cancer diagnosis can, and will shake your sense of identity to its very core. Cancer is a sadistic enemy that assaults not only your body but every other area of your life, including your relationships, family life, friendships, finances, career, and even your sense of self. You may be surprised to find the people you thought you could count on disappear from your life. The silence from some family and friends after Howard’s diagnosis was deafening to say the least. However, with Loraine’s diagnosis we have been blessed by plenty of loving support from friends, family and her most excellent care team. We are most humbly grateful for all the love we have received…