F*ck off, cancer

Sorry for being so blunt, but I feel like nothing else but swearing today. I am just so done with bad news.
Another girl I know (over the Internet) was diagnosed with cancer yesterday.
It just scares the crap out of me that I know 6 people already, all around my age or younger, who’ve been diagnosed with some sort of cancer in the last three to four years. What the hell?
Is this just random “bad luck” or is it just getting more common for young, healthy people to be diagnosed with cancer?

I know, the prognoses these days are much better than, say, 30 years ago, but I just can’t get over the fact that so many young people have to deal with this disease.

The one case that hits closest to home: My best friend in Germany was diagnosed with a brain tumor last October. I had just seen her a month prior, she looked beautiful and healthy and there was nothing wrong with her. If it hadn’t been for some other minor jaw pain which led to her having a CAT scan done at the beginning of October, they wouldn’t even have found the sucker that had taken up residence on her frontal lobe. It’s just so scary that she didn’t even have any pain/symptoms at all, which, on the other hand, is good because it means that they caught it early, before it could compromise any functions handled by that part of the brain.
I didn’t talk about it here because I wanted to respect my friend’s privacy. To be honest, I didn’t even feel ready to talk about it. I am just constantly amazed at how she handles the whole situation, how strong and positive she is.

She had surgery a couple of weeks after the diagnosis. They couldn’t get rid off all the cells, but at least the tumor was operable. The procedure was an awake brain surgery, also known as brain mapping which is used to identify which areas of the brain control vision, language and body movement.
I know it sounds rather unbelievable and, actually, unimaginable, but the procedure itself is pretty amazing, to be frank.

At the beginning of the surgery, she was sedated as in any common surgery, for the surgeon to open her skull to expose the brain tumor. Then she was awakened and asked to perform routine tasks, such as identifying pictures, moving his or her hand, counting or answering questions. Precisely guided by computer images and her responses, the neurosurgeon then removed as much of the damaged brain tissue as possible, ensuring that only the pathologic areas of the brain were removed and the healthy tissue was left intact.

Yeah, didn’t I tell you? It’s pretty amazing.

She recovered from the surgery just fine and now has a week of chemo every month, somewhat indefinitely. They can’t tell her if or when the cancerous cells will be gone. There is no prognosis from here on out. For all she knows, she might have to live with this tumor for the rest of her life, with maintenance visits to the doctor every couple of months.

Despite the helplessness I feel by being hundreds thousands of miles away and not being able to be much of a support for her right now (besides talking on the phone and sending the occasional care package), I know she’s surrounded and supported by the most wonderful people, her family and other friends. It makes me feel relieved and thankful for all the great people in her life.

Even though this is a tough situation to face, she’s not bitter or angry, in fact, she’s the most positive person I know. I don’t know if I could carry myself this way, if I was in her situation. She puts things in perspective for me, and that can be pretty damn necessary sometimes.

  1. I will cross my fingers for your friend and every other person who is fighting against this horrible disease!

  2. I’m sure that knowing you are just a phone call away is immensely supportive to your friend!

    I’ve often wondered myself if there are more cases in young people because of earlier detection or because we’re polluting our bodies and our environments so badly that it is becoming more prevalent. I’d like to think (hope) that it is better scientific advancement!

  3. oh wow, you even wrote in your blog about me. all i can say is that it is not the end of the world for me, just the beginning of a big bump in the road. i am determined to fight it at all costs. and thanks to all the support i’ve been getting i KNOW i will win this one…

  4. I’m so sorry so many people close to you are dealing with this disease! It also really scares me to death, to the point that I hate going to the doctor…when I KNOW I should!

    I’m always so amazed and inspired by people that are coping with this and have a more positive outlook on life than I do. Thank you for sharing its always great to have a reason to be utterly grateful for one’s own blessings!

  5. That is scary. Just one more “excuse” to live your day like it would be your last. And don’t forget to say I love you.

  6. I am sorry that so many people close to you have to suffer from this disease. I am sure they are very happy to have you and your support!

  7. wow, i am really sorry to read that!

    matt is reading a book right now called “the china study”. don’t know if you’ve heard of his. it basically explains how cancer is related to intake of animal protein.

  8. Greta says hello. She is sitting on my lap as I write.
    I know. Cancer sucks. I have lost so many to this terrible disease. I just pray that those I love won’t have to face it.
    You know my daughter works in cancer research. I am so proud of her, even though I know her job is very tough emotionally.

  9. Wow, that’s terrible… and scary. Hope your friends are doing better soon. I am sure you are a good support for them, even though you don’t live around the corner.

  10. i was so shocked when you told me about your friend, probably because i know her. i am really amazed to read how positive she handles that, which is probably the best way. but i wonder if i would have the power to be that way. this is so scary. please send her all my love to be such a strong young woman. i do understand how helpless you feel so many thousand miles away but i know she appreciates everything you do for her and that you love her.

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