Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Fight On!

Today marks the second anniversary of GM Roper's lung surgery to remove the cancer. All the follow-up CT and PT scans, GM has remained cancer free and is living proof that cancer can be beaten. Those of us belonging to An Army of Bloggers are posting today about the importance of fighting cancer.

In "The Season for Giving," a post I did in December 2007, I explained why I was donating to The Kayla GBM Foundation, which supports research for glioblastoma multiforme, the deadliest type of brain cancer. I myself have never been diagnosed with cancer. But back in 1996-1997, I did have a cancer scare, when a mammogram showed a suspicious result.

Twice, for a few short days, I thought that my number was up, at the age of forty-four, the same age at which Mr. AOW underwent inner-ear and brain surgery for acoustic neuroma, a benign albeit invasive tumor of the auditory nerve's myelin sheath. The auditory nerve, of course, follows a path into the brain stem and, if not removed, acoustic neuroma compromises the function of the brain stem, eventually leading to death. Acoustic-neuroma surgery is a life-altering event, with permanent side effects, including chronic fatigue, loss of hearing, loss of balance, and short-term memory problems — even when the surgery is successful.

My own cancer scare came when I received a phone call at work. I was summoned to the school office for an emergency call and heard the medical specialist on the other end tell me that I had to go immediately, that very day, to the hospital for an ultrasound of my right breast. When I arrived, the personnel at the breast cancer center already had the operating room reserved for later in the day! Based on what the diagnosticians had seen on my mammogram, they were nearly certain that I had to undergo a radical mastectomy.

As it turned out, the ultrasound indicated that I did not have breast cancer. With apologies, the breast cancer center sent me home. I cannot begin to describe the relief I felt! I was going to live!

But my relief did not last for long.

A few weeks later, I received a call from a surgeon, who insisted that I needed an excision biopsy, for a lump I couldn't yet feel. On January 20, 2007, the very day of the biopsy, I finally was able to feel the lump, which was about pea-sized. Once again, feelings of doom overtook me. I was sure that my number was up!

Of course, I went ahead with the excision biopsy. Then, I had to wait a full week for the results. Negative for cancer! Not even precancerous! But the little lump, detected so very early by mammogram, was of the type which, over time, could have become precancerous and, later, fully cancerous.

That week of waiting for the results of my biopsy was probably the longest of my life. I couldn't eat, couldn't sleep, couldn't keep my mind on my work. I recalled all the horror stories of cancer surgery and cancer treatment. I imagined those horrors happening to me, in the prime of life.

But would I have fought cancer, had I been so diagnosed. You bet! Life is precious and worth holding on to. And do I still get regular mammograms. Absolutely! Those appointments are ones that I keep, no matter how much I have to alter my schedule.

[CLICK HERE FOR FREE to support free mammograms]

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posted by Always On Watch @ 2/06/2008 06:18:00 AM