The thing about cancer……….

sept2013

The thing about cancer is…….. you can’t “cure” it.  With all the exposure I’ve had to cancer in the last 7 and half years of my life that is the one thing I’ve come to begrudgingly accept.  Yes I’ve bought the shirts and signs and ribbons that say “hope for a cure” etc….  That was then.  This is now.

Why can’t you cure it? The better question is why have researchers spent the better part of 50 years trying to cure it?  IT CAN’T BE CURED.  It can’t be cured for one very simple fact:  Cancer is caused by changes in a person’s DNA.  We can’t “cure” our DNA.  Well actually, we probably can, but we probably shouldn’t.

Yes there are definitions out there that explain things like abnormal cell growth, rapid abnormal cell growth, abnormal division of cells etc….. But the one thing you can’t change in all those definitions is that those cells that are growing and invading and abnormally dividing and changing are already inside of us from birth.

Yes I know there are lists of carcinogens – things that researchers have determined can be responsible for cancer.  Or more specifically things outside of our body that can cause a cell to start being abnormal and dividing in ways it isn’t supposed to.  But (there’s always a but) even the known carcinogens don’t “cause” cancer – because there other factors like length of exposure, intensity of exposure and….. GENETIC MAKEUP.  Not to mention that some of the things on the list are hormones our body makes naturally (like estrogen and progesterone) and just about every chemotherapy medicine used to treat cancer is also on the list of known carcinogens that can cause cancer.  That makes sense right?  Oh yeah and estrogen and progesterone can help prevent one type of cancer but can also “cause” another type of cancer.

My opinion about cancer changed radically about a year ago – with 2 reports that were being splashed all over social media and all the news-tainment programs.  The first was about cell phones and brain tumors.  If you want to watch a mother who has a child with a brain tumor come completely unglued please bring up the fact that cell phones cause brain tumors.  The second was that American soccer players are getting cancer from the turf fields they play on.  You know the turf type fields they have in most suburban high schools these days – something about the rubber and synthetic grass.  It was cleverly devised with numbers and statistics – it affects goal keepers more than other players – and in all they accounted for 38 players (34 of them goal keepers) with some type of cancer.  38 players…. Nationwide.  By the way there are over 14 million soccer players (youth and adult) in the United States.  I’ll be honest I can’t even do the math to figure out the percentage there because it would involve a decimal point a lot of zeros but I’m sure you get my point.  However everyone I know saw that story and wanted to show it to me with the assumption I wouldn’t let Dawson play soccer anymore because it upped his risk of cancer.

Everyday 43 kids are diagnosed with cancer (this statistic is up from 37 when Teagan was diagnosed).  I’d say Dawson has better random odds of being one of those 43 kids than one of the 38 soccer players that developed cancer.  But the thing is… nobody knows.  It’s like a game of Russian Roulette with DNA.  I will guarantee you that not one of the 43 children diagnosed with cancer today has ever smoked 2 packs of cigarettes a day, used a cell phone excessively, played with asbestos insulation, ate too much of something or too little of something else, drank or didn’t drink coffee, wine, beer or tea, worked night shift (how many of you know that increases your risk of cancer?) or had prolonged contact with chemicals that have names as long as a sentence.

Did I happen to see an article today that said something to the effect of “25 ways to help prevent developing breast cancer?”  Yes.  Did it piss me off?  Yes.  Why?  Because working out 20 minutes a day and eating apples and avocados and cutting out caffeine are not going to prevent me from getting breast cancer.  Not when my risk increases 25% because my mom has breast cancer – and for the specific type of breast cancer she has my risk also increases another 20% because I’m half Hispanic.  So with those genetic odds working against me I have little need to worry about being overweight, working night shift, and the amount of caffeine I ingest.

There isn’t a cure for cancer.  There really never will be.  They may come up with better treatments – which I hope for daily because the current ones will kill you as easily as the cancer will.  And I’m sure if scientists can genetically alter an orange to taste better or be juicier they can also genetically alter an unborn child to prevent them from genetic mutations that cause cancer.  But then you get into all of the tangled ethical questions when you can control genes – you control race, height, eye color, hair color – and someone somewhere would ultimately try to use this information for evil instead of good.  Because some people just suck like that.

Cancer sucks.  There is nothing about it that doesn’t suck.  The treatment, the pain, the exhaustion, the life altering changes it makes to your body…. They all suck.  Worst of all is when (if) the cancer finally takes over more of your body than the doctors and medicine can control.  This is the part I’m at with my mom.  And it’s the suckiest part I’ve ever seen.

So the thing about cancer is……………

It sucks.

No matter which way you look at it.

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3 thoughts on “The thing about cancer……….

  1. Great article, and some good points. I can’t stand those articles (usually distributed using Facebook) about “X ways to cure Y”. Call me cynical (guilty), but I have a theory behind them.

    There exists a group of people whose greatest interest seems to be to control the lives of others. The how is not really important, and some try ample ways. Of late, health seems to be the latest way to accomplish this. Everytime I see someone on the news championing the removal of soft drinks from schools, for example, I cringe. Soft drinks aren’t the best thing on the planet. And I’d rather have my kid drink milk (if I had said kid). But I’d also like my child to learn good decision making on his/her own, with my help, not grow up in a society where everything bad for them has been removed by someone with a bully pulpit.

    Some things are bad for you. Sometimes people do things that are unhealthy. They weigh the risks vs. rewards, and decide that trans-fat laden chocolate sundae is worth the slightly elevated risk of cancer, heart-attack, stroke, etc.

    Everywhere you look, there is someone (usually purporting to be well-meaning) who wants to control what you do. Resist them, if possible. Have that sundae (or work that night shift)….

    • It’s just my theory….. because if you look up anything about cancer the first thing you will find on any cancer site is that “cancer is caused by abnormal rapidly dividing cells.” There is no way “fix” that because those cells are already inside of us and they can’t always pin point what triggers the cells to mutate – sure inhaling smoke from a cigarette filled with chemicals is bad, but my grandmother smoked for 25+ years and never got lung cancer. My mom also smoked for years, but it’s not lung cancer that has taken over her body its breast cancer. There is a set of identical twins – one died from a brain tumor but the other is fine…… that’s why I don’t put much stock in the “apple a day” theory. At least not in my non-medically educated opinion. 🙂

      • George Burns smoked cigars and lived until he was like 160. So I tend to agree. Pundits such as Dr. Oz and Dr; Phil notwithstanding, we’re not going to get off this rock alive. Might as well enjoy ourselves and live life to the fullest.

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