I will be 34 in less than a month. I look back over my relatively short life and see how many people I've personally known that have fought cancer - some have won; some have lost.
My cousin James died at 15 (almost 16) from leukemia. He battled it for nearly half his life. When it came out of remission the last time, he told his parents he was done - he didn't want anymore treatment. They discussed it with him, his doctors and between themselves. Ultimately, they honored his request and stopped treatment. He received pain management and died 6 weeks after it came out of remission.
My great uncle Alfred died in his 60s from lung cancer that spread to his brain. He was diagnosed and less than 2 months later died. We lived in Utah at the time and he lived in Missouri, but despite the distance, we were very close to him. My mom had a dream one night that he was on a hilltop and he told her he was ok. She woke up at about 3 am with a start and couldn't get back to sleep. At 7 a.m. mountain time, she called her mom in Missouri. Sure enough - he had died, at about 3 a.m. mountain time.
My grandfather battled melanoma multiple times through out his life. He never let it get him down. When he died (in his late 80s), his melanoma had returned and he had prostate cancer. The cancer didn't kill him though; he also had a congenital heart problem - and his body could no longer function on the weakening heart he had.
A childhood friend of my brothers developed cancer in 2nd grade. He lost his leg - but seemed to be ok. Until the cancer came back when he was in 7th grade. He died before the end of the school year.
I've had several family member fight - some successfully and some not successfully - breast cancer, colon cancer, and several other types of cancer.
What made me think of this was something that happened recently. My dad grew up in a small town with his two best friends. They met when they were 7 year old. 54 years later, they are still as close as they were as kids. All of them have moved away from the small town they grew up in and ended up living in different parts of the country. However, they've all come back to the same general region. They get together about once a month to play golf, go fishing, hunting, practice shooting their bow & arrows, just hang out, etc. They all have nicknames - my dad is Dan-O, the others are Buckwheat and Turkey. I've never known Buckwheat and Turkey's real names - in fact, until I was a teenager, I didn't even realize these were nicknames.
Well, a month ago, my dad got a phone call. Turkey has been diagnosed with mesothelioma. Without surgery and treatment, he will have 8 months or less to live. At the end of this month, he will have surgery then begin 5 weeks of radiation followed by chemotherapy. This is going to be a rough haul for Turkey. It's going to be rough on Buckwheat and my dad. With treatment, Turkey is expected to live 1 - 5 years.
This last weekend, my parents spent the weekend with Buckwheat and his wife and they all visited Turkey. They played 9 holes of golf - which exhausted Turkey. They practiced shooting their bows. It was great, in the pictures - you can still see the youthful exuberance in all of them. Turkey could only actually practice for about 30 minutes before he had to sit down.
Turkey is in the process of remodeling his house. There is still a lot of work to be done - but he says he's going to keep working on it. What he doesn't know is that Buckwheat and my dad got ~20 volunteers who are going to finish the house while Turkey is in California getting his surgery and radiation done.
I hate cancer. I hate how cruel it is. I hate the scars it leaves on it's survivors - whether the survivors are people that have had cancer or those left behind when a person with cancer dies. I hate cancer.