Over the years, one thing standing out among all the achievements in cancer treatment is fewer people are dying from it. Treatment helps you not only kick cancer, but is also helps you have more birthdays. Some of us might not, I understand that, too.
One thing some people do is procrastinate getting the diagnosis. They don’t want to ruin Christmas, or your birthday, or anniversary, so they put off the visit to the doctor. They delay the scans. Work is always a great excuse. Trust me, if you work for a company with health insurance and/or PTO, you can certainly miss an hour to have this important test. Your life may depend on it. Too blunt?
Sorry, not sorry if it is. The whole point I’ve learned over the years is something ACS hammers home every chance it gets: Early Detection Saves Lives.
Please, get those diagnostic tests.
Some people with cancer the Babe and I know diagnosed early had much better chances of survival after treatments. Some cancers, hard to detect, are advanced staged at diagnosis. The Babe’s ex-wife Sandy was one of these people. We were all friends, and Sandy and I became good friends during her illness. I was home during the day, and when she felt up to it, we’d go to a movie or have lunch during a weekday. I treasure that friendship. She, given 6 months to live, lived a life full of love from her kids and grandkids. And she lived two years longer than expected. She enriched all of our lives. Miss you, my friend.
Sandy’s sister Sharon, diagnosed with the same cancer as Sandy, died the next spring. Their mother died in 1988 from the same cancer. Sad situation all the way around. Sharon’s husband, Lou, began inviting us to have Christmas dinner with him, with the Babe’s daughter Tracy, TJ, Addison and Gavin. It’s become an annual blessing. The Babe worked for Lou at Watkins Concrete Block Co, Inc. until they both retired. A very kind man, with a big heart. Miss them both now.
We’ve known two people diagnosed with kidney cancer. They both underwent kidney removal surgery. Later on, cancer appeared in a nearby location, and the fight was on. The cancer, and other factors, resulted in the loss of another friend. The other person, the Babe’s Mom Liz, had the kidney removed and not more cancer. She passed from complications from MS. Bless her, too. Miss her every day.
For about seven or eight years, it seemed that’s all we knew, one friend after another; lost to cancer.
The loss to our family of my sister-in-law Laura was equally as devastating as the loss of our dad.
Married to my brother Tim, Laura was a sweetheart since kindergarten. Yes, kindergarten. Their lives went different ways, but they remained in touch. Laura married after high school, divorced with one child. She remarried, was pregnant, and her husband died of cancer. Two little children, a girl and a boy.
She wed again, had two more boys, and this husband committed suicide. Dear God, this could be a movie plot. And it’s absolutely true. Alone with four children. My brother re-entered her life.
It was a roller coaster much of the time. They were intent on changing each of their lives, and learning a better way to live and raise the children. After several years of marriage, they diagnosed Laura with oral cancer. Her brother passed from it as well. Now, Laura suffered the same fate.
To help my brother, I spent a lot of time with her. He was trying to work his job, save his time off for when he absolutely needed it, and run the house, keeping track of the kids. Hard enough for two people, much less for one with a day job. She was in and out of the hospital, feeding tube, massive weight loss, chemo and radiation, and she stayed positive. We talked a lot about heaven, God, and forgiveness. She and I were distant over a misunderstanding for a long time. Her illness and my love for my brother helped heal that issue, and I’m grateful for what I learned from her.
Mend your fences, folks. Take it from one who knows. You don’t want to run out of time. Love you, sister! See you in heaven, someday.
Both women added to my life and my understanding of others. So grateful for their friendships and the memories I have with them. Make some memories today. See you tomorrow.