Cancer: Beat It!


So my good pal POD over at the blog Thufferin' Thuccotash reminded me that October 2nd is Livestrong Day, as well as POD's own two year anniversary of receiving a cancer diagnosis.


Happy "Guess What, It's Cancer!" Anniversary, POD!
(Photo: Valerie ReneƩ)

POD is celebrating this milestone by doing a Livestrong Event over at her blog, and she's asked other bloggers to join her today in blogging about cancer. As she explained:

"It is a way for bloggers to share their stories, poignant, devastating, thrilling, celebratory and triumphant. If you haven't been bulldozed by a cancer diagnosis, you can still participate. Write about a friend or post a prayer."

Well, I'm not not good at poignant or thrilling, and I'm lucky enough not to have been bulldozed by a cancer diagnosis myself. And I'm crap at prayers.

But still--who doesn't think cancer sucks?

So even though my list is lightweight compared to the heroic tales of cancer survivors, and the tragic losses experienced by many of you, I'll add my 2 cents. We need to raise awareness and wipe cancer out so no one ever has to deal with it anymore.

Five Reasons Why I Hate Cancer:

5. It's scary and unpredictable and sometimes fatal, and so even if we don't have it ourselves it's hard not to worry about getting it. Ever since watching "Brian's Song" and "Love Story" in my youth, a cancer diagnosis has always been my biggest health fear. I've long dreaded the day when some frowning doctor is going to look down at my lab results and say "I'm afraid I have some bad news."

And television shows and movies love cancer, it's a reliable plot device. This only magnifies the sense that cancer is lurking everywhere, waiting for that brief lull in the action when everyone is finally happy. Then, just when you think everything's ok: uh oh! You can pretty much guarantee that if a character has a funny bump or a cough that lasts more than 2 days, pretty soon they're going to be seeing that frowning doctor. And within a month or so, that character's going to show up wearing a headscarf and a brave smile.

4. Because I fear cancer, I tend to spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to avoid anything that might encourage it. Am I slathering on the wrong sunscreen? Drinking water out of the wrong containers? Is my cell phone poisoning me? Should I worry I'm getting mammograms too often or not often enough? What sort of preservatives are in that lunch-meat?

In a world without cancer, I think I'd spend more time reading novels and a hell of a lot less time scouring labels for scary ingredients.

3. It's so unfair: too many people do everything right and still get cancer. Many of my blogging friends have dealt with it, like POD and Reb and Missicat and I'm probably forgetting a bunch of others. And I've lost friends in their 30's and 40's who should still be alive today.

2. From what I understand, even if one is lucky and survives and becomes cancer-free, the whole process can be excruciating. The fear, the pain, the exhaustion, the drugs, the nasty side effects, the unpleasant procedures, the expense, the toll on family members and caregivers... I have no idea how those of you with cancer continue to stay so brave and positive and constructive.

I'd be all "why me!" and "this sucks!" and "it's not fair!" and "don't expect me to do anything difficult--don't you know I have cancer?!"

1. I never got to know my grandfather. He was a doctor in the military, and was just getting ready to go work on the hospital ship the SS Hope, in order to help save lives around the world. Instead he was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and it took him quickly. I was only two when he died and I wish I could remember him, but I can't. From everything I've heard, I missed out on what could have been a great and inspirational relationship.

So thanks, cancer. Thanks a lot.

This is not to say there aren't lots of other horrible diseases too, and I think they all should have their own official "we hate you, get lost" day. And why does our country seem to have endless resources to study the cheapest way to make potato chips, and still not enough to discover cures for terrible random diseases?

Grrr.

But there's also reason for optimism...



Every day we read about promising new cancer treatments being developed. There may not be a single "cure" yet, but there are a lot more weapons than there used to be. Hard working researchers toil away in their labs, looking for better ways to detect and treat cancer, and it all adds up.

Breast cancer death rates have been dropping about 2% a year, for example, and have fallen nearly 30% from a high in 1989.

Unfortunately, all that research takes money, and a sense of urgency, and enough political pressure to make sure the folks in Washington understand that curing cancer and other horrible diseases should be an important national priority.

So anyway, scoot on over to Thufferin' Thuccotash, and consider donating to a cancer-fighting or other disease-related charity if you've got some bucks to spare.

Oh and I'm doing a short post over at the Juice today on the same subject, since it's "give more, get more" week. (Which does not mean that if you donate more to fight cancer, you will get more cancer. I swear).

Got some good reasons to hate cancer, or some inspirational stories to share?

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