Five People

Will the 5 people not affected by cancer in anyway please stand up? I have come to the conclusion that if there are 5 people in this country who don’t have cancer themselves or have any close relatives or friends with cancer, they have won the health lottery.

I honestly believe that we are now in a time that cancer is so ramped that it is around us just like the air we breathe. Recently, I have been inundated. Of course, I myself am a cancer survivor and my father also passed away from lung cancer. And now, right before Thanksgiving, my mother was diagnosed with colon/rectal cancer. She is 85 and I am embarrassed to say apparently she never had a colonoscopy and she has so many other serious issues (heart, diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol, glaucoma, severe arthritis etc.) that I don’t even know where to rank the cancer. I call her the Timex watch, “she takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin”. In fact she is on oral chemo and told me the other day, after a week on the meds, that she has never felt better in her life. Go figure. Anyway….. The other day I had one of those “ah ha” moments, I realized that I honestly don’t think there is a person alive right now who doesn’t have cancer somewhere in their immediate close family, whether it is an actual blood relative or a close friend.

The other morning as I was getting ready for the day, I got a phone call from a close friend who himself is a kidney cancer survivor (at the age of 41) calling about his closest friend (also young 40’s) who is currently battling esophageal cancer. I have become a sort of contact person for people with lung and related cancers from all over the country, who get my name from a friend or a friend of a friend, or a sister of my friend’s friend on a cruise (really happened) or people who work in the cancer field. I talk to them about what path I followed, doctors I consulted, organizations I am affiliated with and direct them to websites, hospitals, books, and things I know about the latest and greatest in treatments available. I have become an unofficial information center. Sometimes people just want to talk and tell me their story. Whatever they need, I try to help. I love being there for these people and remember the wonderful person who has since passed away who met and talked to me when I was in my “shock stage”.

Anyway, back to that morning of my epiphany. My friend, (I’ll call him Fred) is telling me about his best friend’s (I’ll call him Mark) situation and how Mark wasn’t happy with his latest scan (he already had a 53% reduction in the cancer tumors, which had spread to the liver and lung) but in the latest scan nothing had changed, which from everyone else’s point of view was great. Fred wanted me to call Mark and tell him about getting 2nd and 3rd opinions and who I saw and could I make a phone call to him and his wife, which of course I did immediately.

As I am talking to them on the phone, my mother’s visiting nurse calls up to me and asks if I can bring her up to date on my mother’s cancer situation (my mom was staying with me at the time and the nurse was visiting at my house), so as I ask Mark and his wife to hold on, I give the colon cancer treatment update to the nurse. Just them my other phone rings and it is my scan place calling to confirm my appointment for my next scan.

So here is the picture, I have a phone on my shoulder talking to a young couple (also young 40’s) about esophageal cancer, talking to my 85 year old mother’s nurse about her colon cancer, AND on the other phone confirming my (50ish year old) 5 year appointment for a scan about my lung cancer.

I know that in a hospital setting this wouldn’t be unusual, but I live in a house in the suburbs! And that’s when it hit me; maybe there are now more people that live on my side of the looking glass than there are on the “other side”. I am beginning to think that like the air we breathe, cancer is everywhere and it has touched everyone somehow and someway. So if there are 5 people, or any people for that matter, out there who have no idea what I am talking about, just know this, for right now you are the luckiest people on the planet.

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