Posted by: Kathy | February 4, 2011

Cancer, My Ultimate “Four-Letter Word”

During one of my college classes many years ago, the professor stated that by the year 2000, one out of every four people would have a first-degree relative with cancer. A scary statistic when you think about it. But at the time, I didn’t even consider it. I still had all four of my grandparents, my parents were healthy, and cancer didn’t run in our family.

Fast forward 20 years – I lost my mom to a very deadly form of cancer in less than a year, my friend’s mom was recently diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer, I have several friends who have lost parents to cancer, and each Sunday many of the prayer requests in church are for people fighting against this horrible disease. In 2006, a close friend and colleague lost his dad to lung cancer. I tried to comfort him and support him during this time, but I really didn’t understand what he was going through. It wasn’t until I lost my mom to pancreatic cancer that I really understood. I shared an office with this man and was in awe of his strength and composure during his dad’s illness and then after his death. I worked at home and considered myself lucky since I broke down constantly as I tried to comprehend what was happening with my mom. I’m grateful I wasn’t in an office setting surrounded by lots of people.

Between my job as a medical writer and my personal life, I sometimes feel like I’m surrounded by cancer, which has become the ultimate “four-letter word” to me. I wish cancer would just disappear, that people didn’t have to suffer from this awful disease. But the incidence of cancer is going to keep increasing, and I pray that better methods for diagnosing patients and more potent treatments will increase the number of cancer survivors. My husband jokes that I don’t have any compassion. But over the past 2 years, I’ve developed empathy and a strong desire to help people battling against cancer or watching a loved one fight against this disease, or comfort those who have lost someone special to cancer. This has become my passion. 

I started by blog to help me sort through what I was feeling after my mom died. I continue to write in hopes of helping others who are going through or have gone through what I did. I hope that my words help others. I am amazed at the number of people who have visited my site. The comments people leave me touch my heart (and I need to do a better job of responding to people who have taken the time to leave a comment). But I want to do more. I want to help people in whatever way I can. The other day my son said something that I keep thinking about. We were talking about different things, and somehow I started telling him about how I almost died when I was 2 years old. I beat the odds, as there was a 75% chance I would die. My son said that there must be a reason why I lived, that there must be something I am supposed to do in my life. I have no idea what this is, but maybe it’s to help people.


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