Monday, August 16, 2010

Cancer Schmancer!

(I have to give Fran Drescher props for the name of this post..)

I am writing this post a little early because by the time my posting day (Monday) comes along I will be in the Pocono mountains where I am a counselor at a week long sleep-away camp for children who have or have had cancer. Coincidentally cancer was going to be the topic of my post this week. Not in a morbid sense, but in a more informational and inspirational sense.

While many of you may think I am at camp in the woods with hundreds of bald children (yes, some of them are bald..and SO darn cute) who sit around all day and be depressed together, I am actually having the time of my life, and so are they! I feel honored to be able to spend a week with these children. They really seem to have life figured out. Sure they go through the usual "he's not sharing" and "I like him but he doesn't like me" and "why wont she stop copying me", they are children and young adults after all, but I am overwhelmed by their sense of living for the day and living each of those days to the fullest. I have seem so many amazing things at camp: a blind boy lasso a horse, a girl with one leg climb a rock wall, and so much more. I try to keep my complaining about dirt, bugs, gross showers, and awful cafeteria food to a minimum at camp since these children have gone through more in like than I probably ever will.

Cancer is (sadly) something I grew up knowing way too much about. My mother's best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer and spent 10 years battling the disease until she eventually lost. I can remember the day she showed us her bald head and also remember the times I was at her house after her chemo treatments and watched her get sick and be in pain.

I know the C-word is difficult for a lot of people to discuss but considering the past few weeks I've had I just have to get it out!

Last week a dear friend of the family (literally, I call her my sister) was diagnosed with breast cancer. This friend is the daughter of the woman I was speaking about above in this post. I think she, along with her family and friends, have experienced every emotion possible that comes with The Big C in the past week and a half. Although she is not a child anymore, but rather a woman in her late 20s, she has big decisions to make that will affect the rest of her life. How will this affect her relationships? How will she feel about herself and her body after this? Will she be treated differently by coworkers?

She hasn't been able to go to work for the past two weeks due to various appointments and testing schedules she has to attend all over the tri state area. She has had numerous conference calls with the hr department in her office and although they offer her 6 weeks paid disability (or whatever the actual deal is) it still doesn't help the way her coworkers and managers will treat her. I was googling stuff about cancer in the workplace and came upon this website that's sole purpose is to teach managers how to deal with their employees who have been diagnosed. There was also an interesting post on the CancerCare website about a employer looking to have educational workshops about cancer since many of his employees were recently diagnosed.

The more friends and family I told about my friend's recent diagnosis the more people told me "oh, so and so was just diagnosed" or "she should talk to so and so, she just went through treatment for breast cancer". I always knew cancer was everywhere, but not until it hit home did I really see how many people so close to me are affected.

Truth is, we can exercise, eat right, quit smoking, and drink less but we really never know what cancer is capable of. All we can do is the best we can and get regular check ups and tests to maintain our health. So I'd like to offer my best thoughts, wishes, and prayers for all of the working girls out there who have been affected, or who know someone who has been affected by cancer. And my condolences and sympathies to those who know someone who has lost the difficult and strenuous battle.

If you or someone close to you has been affected with breast cancer, or any type of that cancer for that matter, and you want to share a story please feel free to do so..


Henna said...

My mother' cousin lost her life due to it.
The worst part of it was that she was a type 2 diabetic as well. That complicated things to a horrifying extent.
And it is really saddening when someone who's dying keeps on wishing and begging to God for a longer life to live.
My mum recently had to get her gall bladder removed when a (thankfully) non cancerous (but possibly could be in near future) polyp was detected on it.
I guess all we can do is accept it..Of course happily isn't possible. But at the moment that's all one can do.

MO said...

Both my parents struggled thru mom is a breast cancer surivor of 7 years, but my dad is currently going thru chemo/radiation for pancreatic cancer AND lymphoma! It's just a terrible disease that I pray one day they will find a cure for all!!! Esp those lil' are a true inspiration for doing what you are doing...!!!

Erin said...

Within a month this summer, my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer and melanoma. Thankfully, both were caught early and his prognosis is fair at this point. Though, he now has to do radiation for the prostate, which they originally thought would be solved with surgery. The Big C is truly a disease that touches everyone. All we can do is try to live healthy and ban together to support our loved ones. I think mentally, it's so important to be surrounded by love.