The “C” word

ImageHow cancer treatment works

Cancer is a world of its own.  Sudden entrance into this world can be disorientating, frightening– alienating.  The diagnosis introduces the patient to the dynamics of cancer treatment in the U.S.that would intimidate a battle-hardened Marine.  There’s a lot of testing to be done before a patient can be considered for chemotherapy, if the extent of the cancer requires it.  And then, it could take place either before or after surgery, if surgery takes place at all..   A great deal of preparation, which the patient has to stoically bear, challenges any shyness concerning exposing ones unclothed body to strangers.  Medical personnel do their best to support and reassure the patient, laboring to lessen the dehumanizing property of serious illness.

Chemotherapy (aka  “chemo”)  is as varied as are the patients and their responses to the drugs.   There are a number of chemo drugs available and “protocols” (established procedures) for the use of these drugs, depending on the type and extent of the cancer.  Simply put, these drugs are toxic to rapidly dividing cancer cells– cells which are rapidly multiplying–  displacing healthy cells–  stealing their blood supply–, starving  to death the  “good” cells.

Chemo drugs  stop cancer cells from rapid division– killing them.  Unfortunately, chemo can also kill “good” cells in the process.  This is why some patients lose body hair– have  malformed  or disrupted nail growth.  Hair and nails divide rapidly relative to our other cells and so are easily affected by chemo drugs.

There are other side effects which are not cosmetic and can be harmful to the patient.  Anemia, low white cell count; organ damage, nerve and blood vessel damage– pain. There are the more common side effects such as weakness, tiredness, nausea, loss of appetite.  Most of these side effects can be addressed and lessened or alleviated.  Some of the damage will disappear on its own after chemo has finished– some may not.

Chemo is not the only cancer therapy.  Radiation therapy can be adjunct to chemo or stand alone if chemo is not indicated.  The area of cancer is targeted and radiation is given over a period of time to kill the cancer cells.  The skin in the targeted area suffers from “burn”, much like a very bad sunburn.  Non-cancerous cells in the targeted area suffer acceptable collateral damage, death.  The patient is, at the very least, tired and sore.

Chemo therapasaurus

Chemo therapysaurus

flamingoid cancer cell

Pinko flamingonoma

Surviving cancer

I first considered developing  this blog as a project to help those breast cancer survivors who never stray far from their diagnosis even after successful treatment.  Survivors might recite mantras such as “cancer does not define me”  but there’s the rub.   A diagnosis of cancer serves as a protective layer as well as a barrier– deflecting responsibility and providing a safe harbor.  Social and political mechanisms have stealthily pressured anxious cancer patients to accept labeling and become unwitting members of an exclusive  “cancer club”.

Disease is a great leveler.  For some, this may be the only “social club” to which they will ever belong.  Fellow members may be the only friends they have or, perhaps, the only ones with genuine  acceptance and understanding.   It is sad to acknowledge that cancer was once looked upon as shameful– not to be mentioned.  That was not so long ago.  I remember as a child, adults whispering about the “C ”  word  as if it were some obscene disease, blamed on the unfortunate  individual for his/her imperfection or deficiency. 

Regrettably, that embarrassment still lingers in our modern society.  People still whisper and many do not know what cancer is or how it is treated. Telling a friend, or co-worker, even a relative, of his/her diagnosis often renders them uncomfortable, speechless, or causes them to disappear from the patient’s  life– returning much later,  claiming they had been too busy to even pick up the phone.  Oddly enough, strangers and people you do not know very well, perform acts of  kindness you would not expect but often badly need.   

We do not know if this way of living is harmful to the survivors’ emotional and perhaps even physical well-being..  It certainly is preferable to prejudice or indifference.  To the unanointed, at the very least it can be annoying to be around someone who wears his/her cancer experience as a badge of achievement.  We just have to remind ourselves that cancer without successful treatment is usually a death sentence.

It is easy for the survivor to be lured into the emotion-absorbing folds of the cancer club and become a participant in the campaign for a cure.  The active cancer patients and the cancer survivors are honored to walk for the cure, wear pink shirts– carry pink tote bags,  pink  beach towels;  write  pink personal checks, etc., each emblazoned  with the breast cancer logo.  Quite a coup for breast cancer research.   All the PR and marketing has greatly benefited breast cancer research.

Aside from early detection, 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.   A case of breast cancer is diagnosed among women every 2 minutes and a woman dies from breast cancer every 13 minutes in the U.S. (Breast cancer facts and figures 2011-2012 ACS;   Cancer facts and figures 2012 ACS).

The object of my affection

I had considered focusing this blog on cancer and its victims.  I will on occasion cover such issues as  they arise in my random Rolodex of a memory.  I will reluctantly blame cancer treatment for some of that.  Yep.  I  have a membership in  the cancer club  [Now is when it dawns on you the cause for all that rambling on about a cancer club and annoying cancer survivors].

The Breakfast Club will be about anything and everything ( within reason and good taste).   I will spin the old Rolodex and see what pops up..  My aim (short list) is to transmit wisdom and  knowledge– sporting a dry sense of humor and an attraction to the odd, the unattainable, and a moderate interest in macro-economics.

Join me next time for an examination of  coulrophobia  (does it actually exist?) and, something completely different.

 

 
 
Advertisements
About

When I was a kid I wanted to be an "atomic" scientist. Not anything my mother expected of me. Well, I became a scientist, just not an atomic one.

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in cancer, humor, Life

Seriously, tell me what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

IMAGINATION WILL OFTEN CARRY US TO WORLDS THAT NEVER WERE. BUT WITHOUT IT WE GO NOWHERE.
Carl Sagan

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 154 other followers

Follow Sapient Chronicles on WordPress.com
Categories
Archives
Follow Sapient Chronicles on WordPress.com
Copyright Notice

© [Lucy Conrad] and [Sapient Chronicles], [2015-2016]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Lucy Conrad] and [Sapient Chronicles] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

November 2013
M T W T F S S
    Dec »
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930  

100 POSTS 9/08/14

Follow Sapient Chronicles on WordPress.com
Blog Stats
  • 4,231 hits
Legal Stuff

Creative Commons License
The Sapient Chronicles by Lucy Conrad is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at conradlucy.wordpress.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at conradlucy.wordpress.com.

YeahWrite

Where your words matter.

Mrs Reckless Writes

Fiction, Almost-Truths & Not-Poetry

Bradscribe

A fine WordPress.com site

Habitat for Heavy Hearts

Small, Thoughtful Moments

Cognitive Reflection

Random Thoughts and Musings from London Town

Claire Fuller

Writing and art

Live to Write - Write to Live

We live to write and write to live ... professional writers talk about the craft and business of writing

Notes Tied On The Sagebrush

Writing About Life

BOOKING IT

Debra's Excellent Adventures in Reading and Travel

countingducks

reflections on a passing life

Hangaku Gozen

For we cannot tarry here, We must march my darlings

Anne Higa

Out-of-this-World Fantasy Author

bekindrewrite

write unto others as you would have them write unto you

This is Another Story

About life, fantasy, and everything in between

castelsarrasin

The work and activities of a writer/bargee

Yarnspinnerr

Just Fiction and other things that seem fictitious.

Odyssey of a Novice Writer

Aspiring novelist. Avid reader of fiction. Reviewer of books. By day, my undercover identity is that of meek, mild-mannered legal assistant, Kate Loveton, working in the confines of a stuffy corporate law office; by night, however, I'm a super hero: Kate Loveton, Aspiring Novelist and Spinner of Tales. My favorite words are 'Once upon a time... ' Won't you join me on my journey as I attempt to turn a hobby into something more?

First Night Design

Art, Design, Theatre, Literature, History, Food, Laughter ...

Enchanted Seashells by Princess Rosebud

Beguiling pearls of wit, wisdom, and whimsy-with attitude

The Zombie Blog

Surviving The Zombie Apocalypse

Ray Ferrer - Emotion on Canvas

** OFFICIAL Site of Artist Ray Ferrer **

Don Charisma

because anything is possible with Charisma

Hacker.Ninja.Hooker.Spy.

Some mistakes are too good not to share

Ben's Bitter Blog

"We make bitter better."

belsbror

Simple Living

Leaning on the Son

Inspired by Faith, Hope, Love and Him

Capture You Photography

Texas Style Portraits

Flamingo Dancer's Blog

If I am a goddess why are my feet stuck in the trenches?

Ned's Blog

Humor at the Speed of Life

Adventures in Wonderland

a pilgrimage of the heart

The Brantley Blog

In the eyes of the law, we reach adulthood the day we turn 18 years old. God help anyone who actually believes that.

Pouring My Art Out

Ripping out my guts for your entertainment

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging

Mostly Bright Ideas

Some of these thoughts may make sense. But don't count on it.

A slight obsession with books

Reading and Fibrecrafts

Bad Anemone Press

Science is Funny by Dr. Jim Garvey

Thain in Vain

Mind the Glitches

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: