Friday, February 10, 2012

Cancer Sucks

I've read and heard way too much about cancer this week and it just sucks. I wish I could come up with a more eloquent word to use, but I can't. Cancer doesn't deserve anything more eloquent. It just gets sucks. Because it does.

I'm fortunate that none of the sucky cancer stories I've encountered this week impact me or my family or friends directly, but... in this tightly connected, social-media-is-shrinking-the-world-we-live-in kinda way, I feel the impact of the stories nonetheless.

The 'best' of the cancer news was about one of my favorite authors, Vince Flynn. He was diagnosed with stage III metastatic prostate cancer late in 2010 and is doing well. He's got another 3 1/2-4 years of fighting it to go, but things are promising. Which is awesome.

His new book came out this week, and he was promoting it on Elliot in the Morning, the local radio show where I was first introduced to him as an author several years ago. In addition to talking about the new book, he talked about the cancer. How doctors say he likely had it for 2-3 years at the point of diagnosis and that despite a full physical it went undetected until it spread to his bones. Well gee, isn't that scary. He's fortunate to be responding positively to treatment but isn't out of the woods yet.

And speaking of not being out of the woods, the teenage girl I wrote about several weeks ago, the one whose cancer is 87% curable with chemo alone, yeah, I read her blog last week and learned she is going to need radiation. And then her mom updated yesterday that the radiation oncologist they met with to get things started indicated it's that it will need to be on a wider area, which increases the potential side effects and makes the already sucky situtation even suckier. I don't know this family, but my heart just goes out to them.

And finally, in the super suckiest of all cancer sucking stories of the week, Monday started with the news of a well known DC area blogger, Susan Niebur (aka @WhyMommy) losing her fight with inflammatory breast cancer (IBC). Her blog was called Toddler Planet, where she wrote about her kids, being an astrophysicist and cancer - particularly IBC which is the lesser known type of breast cancer. I didn't read her regularly, but she was good friends with many of the other local bloggers whose blogs I do read all the time. Her blogging crew pulled together started collecting stories and positive memories to share with her last month, when things were looking dim. The outpouring was amazing and continued after the news of her passing.

I cried my eyes out reading through the posts there, and the many other tributes that have popped up this week like this one, and this one and this one. On, and this one in the Washington Post blog.

My takeaway from all of this is three-fold. First, of all, Susan really wanted to educate people about IBC. She wrote a blog post explaining what it is, and how you can have breast cancer without a lump. Please, read the post and learn what to look for.

Second, more research is needed about IBC so if you are able to donate, please make a gift to help prevent IBC from killing more women. I did. It wasn't much, but every dollar helps.

And finally, Susan's "About" section of her blog listed her mantra. It's beautiful and inspiring, and definitely worth sharing.

All that survives after our death are publications and people.

So look carefully after the words you write, the thoughts and publications you create, and how you love others. For these are the only things that will remain.

- Susan Niebur

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