Monday, November 24, 2008

{ The "C" Word

It is the reality of the times that most of us, at some point in time or another, will be touched by cancer. We always hope and pray that it will not be us or someone we know, but the reality of this generation is that it is going to happen.

Flashback to late 2004 when I began to not feel just quite right. Couldn't pinpoint it exactly, but wasn't sure if it was my bladder getting old or the pressure on it from birthing three children. After seeking treatment three times from my general practitioner who misdiagnosed with me with recurring urinary tract infections (when there was no actual infection present), I finally did my own little detective work and made an appt with my gynecologist. My gyno immediately sent me in for an ultrasound (same day) and the next morning they called to tell me I had a tumor. They weren't sure if it was in my uterus or bladder but there was a large mass there and I was to come in immediately. Not days before this, after making the appt with my gyno, I stood looking at myself in the mirror and I said the words out loud "I have cancer don't I?". I said these words to myself and I fell apart. Somehow, some way I already knew it. Talk about an epiphany. I went back in to the doctor and the rest becomes a blur of dates and times and appointments.

I went another couple of weeks before they could remove the tumor. I got called on the phone during dinner to be told my tumor was malignant. Now, I know that seems awful, and it was. However, I told the doctor that as soon as he knew I wanted him to call. I didn't want to be sitting in a doctors office to be told what I already thought. I wanted to be with my family and friends and deal with it before I had to move on.

Two surgeries, one attempted surgical procedure, rounds of week-long chemotherapy treatments, depression, anger, grief and one hospital trip for dehydration later, it was over. My cancer antigen levels (bloodwork) have always went down every trip back, every six months. My 3 year checkup is December 9th. I'm getting to that nervous nelly part where I start to wonder, I look at myself in the mirror and try to "see" if I can tell it's back. It's completely a mental issue, one I've been told all cancer patients go through. It's hard. It's scary and amps up the anxiety level by about a million.

My cancer is a rare type. It normally does come back. It is very agressive and recurrances tend to be terminal. I've read it all. You can google it if you'd like "mucinous adenocarcinoma of the bladder" or "mucinous adenocarcinoma of the uracheous" if you want to get even more technical. uracheus = belly button.

Why am I telling you all this? Because yet again, another live has been touched by cancer. Another friend of a friend is currently battling this demonic disease. It broke my heart to watch my family's fear through their eyes. All because I had to get sick. All because something triggered in my body for those cancer genes to mutate. Don't get me wrong, I am thankful every day that it was me and not those around me because I don't think I could have been that strong for them. As strong as they were for me. And I'm talking my immediate family. In the entire time of my diagnosis, they were really the only ones there for me. My coworkers, church family and close friends were also, but none of my extended family (except Aunt Rhonda and my dad's siblings and a few cousins on my dads side) called, visited, sent a card and/or expressed any concern. You don't forget that. I also don't forget walking through the schools with people looking at you just staring like you're some sort of freak or turning their head when you look at them, afraid you're going to cough on them and give it to them or something.

Cancer touches us all. We all know someone who is struggling with this disease. I challenge you all to send a card. Not just one, but one a week. Call and just listen. Take a dinner and serve it to the family. Play games with the kids. Hold your friends hand and tell them how much they mean to you. Fold their laundry. Sweep their floors. Offer to take the kids for a day. All things that cost little to nothing but are worth millions to those who receive. Slip a $20 in their purse, they'll never admit, but money is tight. When one parent isn't working and your fighting a diseases that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight....$20 might be just a little, but it might mean so much to them. Organize a benefit to help pay their expenses and medical bills. Just because they have insurance doesn't mean expenses aren't piling up. Who pays the other 20% of the insurance bill? Who pays for the gas to the doctor? Who pays for the sitter because you're too sick to take care of your own kids? Who helps grocery shop because you don't even have the energy to push a cart? It's reality. I know, I have been there. $55,000 of my medical bills was MY responsibility after the insurance came through. For a family that lives paycheck to paycheck most of the time (and don't we almost all) think of what that means.

I only tell you this because if I could grant any wish in the world it would be that those suffering from devastating illnesses and/or terminal illnesses could get some help. Why do they have to lose everything or file bankruptcy? Where are all the people who are supposed to matter? Be one of those people. Make a difference, large or small. Give and give freely from your heart. Things that you can give that cost nothing or little to nothing for you but save them so much. Because no one, no one, should have to deal with economic crises when you are fighting for your life.


Tina Schadone said...

So Sorry to read all this Christine. I saw you on Christina's sister in law's blog. I had no idea. I'm thinking of you.