Cancer is a Scary Word

I just got a phone call that a close friend has cancer.  This is the fifth time this year that this has happened.  Two breast cancers, one prostate cancer, one cervical cancer, and one Burkitt’s lymphoma.  Both of the women with breast cancers are fully recovered as is the man with prostate cancer – the other two are at the beginning of dealing with things. Three of the five people are under 40 years old.

I’ve definitely got a little “numb mind” right now.  It’s a partly sunny day in Homer, I woke up feeling happy, looking forward to seeing some friends from Anchorage who are visiting this weekend, my weekly massage from the amazing Megan (this afternoon), and getting to see two new movies this weekend.  This phone call definitely slowed me down and shifted my brain into a more reflective mode.

I just heard Amy tell one of her friends – the one with cervical cancer (carcinoma in situ – boy that’s a “really scary” phrase) – that “whenever someone says the ‘C’ word your heart skips a beat.”  I’m eavesdropping on her conversation – it’s good bi-directional energy between these two women that have been best friends for 20 years. Friends are everything and it warms my heart that Amy is on the phone talking about this.

One of our friends – the one that had breast cancer earlier this year – was unbelievable during the experience.  She was beyond inspiring – her attitude was extraordinary, she went after her disease with gusto, was completely “open source” about the whole thing (she had a double masectomy and was perfectly happy to talk about how excited she was to get new perky breasts, followed by several “nipple free” months – which is weird to write about – but powerful to experience).  There is no doubt that her extreme positive attitude had a huge impact on her recovery.  We already adored this woman before her ordeal – she’s now a touch point for dealing with anything negative.

When I was a kid, my dad would often say “live every day like it is your last.”  It’s a well worn cliche, but it rings true every time I think about it.

  • Cancer is so scary. My father was just diagnosed with a primary brain tumor call Giloblastoma Multiforme (GBM). Bad stuff – rapidly growing and unfortunately is terminal. He is undergoing radiation treatment and a drug called temodor but probably at best 12 months. I agree live every day like it is your last.

  • Heres a worthy goal for a medical devices startup: develop a convenient product or service which detects all kinds of cancer early. I mean really early.

    We are prone to putting down mysterious aches and pains to a lifestyle habit. In the worst case, when the the symptoms get real bad, a checkup reveals the unfortunate news that its in stage three. Could happen to anyone. [1]

    I would pay real good money for something that lets me take these tests, whenever I wanted, in a non-intrusive way and at home, and with the same effort it takes to, say, brush ones teeth.

    This approach makes it a little more of a technology problem, rather than a biology one, and therefore more likely to be solvable.

    [1] “Its not about the bike” by Lance Armstrong

  • Ten years ago I hardly new a couple people who had cancer and now there are a lot of ’em. That’s terrible. I hope new technologies will help us to ged rid of it.

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