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Minnesota Musing: Cancer - A Life Experience
Rainbows and Butterflies - and Then - Thunderbolts and Lightning
Many people live day to day, pushing the odds and engaging in practical behaviors to just get by, oftentimes, overlooking dangers in their path.
A person can live, pretty much fulfilled, by activities that they enjoy, eating multiple foods that they enjoy and pretty much taking it easy. Until one day, they have some sort of pain.
Historically Speaking - Opinions Change
In a persons lifetime, choices change periodically. Most choices in your life are external choices. Your food choices are chosen by your parents, your drink choices, same.
Then, you grow up and start making your own decisions about what types of foods and drinks you toss into your body via your mouth. Many times, you'll find a favorite drink and will drink it at least once a day. Sometimes, multiple times a day. Sometimes you'll find a favorite food choice, and it becomes part of your weekly food choice, if not more often.
Sometimes, you become so engrossed in including some food or drink into your day, that eventually, you ignore the fact that you need to include it in your menu planning. It just is. You buy it, you consume it, it's just part of your day.
We all do this. Over my lifetime, there was opinions about butter. Butter was bad. Then, came margarine products. Some substituted one for the other. Eventually, the truth came out that butter was better for you. But, in the interim, people were making choices. Living dangerously, so to speak.
Drugs of Choice
Eventually, there was the introduction of drugs to the body. Perhaps Tylenol for a headache, cold medicine for a cold. Pain killers for a tooth extraction or broken leg.
Some people turned to alcohol for their fix. Some marijuana. Some cigarettes. For whatever reason, people started their own particular remedy for their pains and aches.
Some of these choices, years later, were labeled as horrible choices. Lawmakers and private citizens gave their opinions and some were banned. The history of certain drugs is interesting. Soda that started out containing cocaine. Heroin available over the counter.
Many of the early drugs were found to motivate or demotivate the masses and the effects were overwhelming on a nationwide scale. So, pick and choose, many were eliminated and substitutions became the norm. Controls became the measure. Doctors had to issue prescriptions and the end result was contained.
Cancer has been a small part of my life since the day I was born. My mother had gone to the hospital the day I was born and when she was dilating, the presenting physician discovered a lump on her cervix.
My birth went as planned, but this unexpected new discovery, kept my mother close to the hospital for the next six months. She underwent radiation treatments and my sister stepped in to be my mom. She was 15 at the time. The oldest of now five children at home.
I had a fairly normal childhood. I had two parents, brothers and sisters, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. Those people were mostly untouched by cancer until this moment.
In retrospect, 55 years later, of all those people - one parent had cancer, one did not. Of the five children, one died of cancer, and of the rest, there was spots of skin cancer. Of the grandparents, some died of cancer, some died of heart problems and deep vein thrombosis. Of the aunts and uncles, many lived to be old, but had issues like cancerous lumps in their heads, senility, dementia and organ failure.
Knock on Wood
A person does not like to view the medical history of their own family and then, breath a sigh of relief and state observations to the viewpoint that one has never had cancer themselves.
Apparently, one has cancer in their body at all times, no matter who they are. The cancers are there, just waiting to be invited to perform their nasty duties.
Invitations, such as products that increase the conditions that cancer thrives in. One never knows quite what products increase the odds, until one day, the doctor informs you that you've failed some test, the odds pointing to the fact that you, too, have entered the world of learning to survive.
Cancer - A Death Sentence
Cancer was not an immediate death sentence for my mother. She had her initial radiation treatments. She claimed that she felt awful for the first six months of my life and was very grateful that my sister had accepted the temporary challenge of motherhood.
I cannot vouch for how many times she went to the doctor and regular visits to maintain her health. She was from the generation that much of the time refused to go to the doctor. Mind you, the doctors in her childhood had come to the house and had maintained the families health in whole, not in parts. There was none of the specialty doctoring that you find nowadays. Nope. The doctor came to your house and checked everything. From your head, to the tips of your toes.
Not like today, where you go to the doctor for your sore finger, and if you haven't scheduled in your sore elbow, that's a whole different visit. It isn't that the doctor doesn't feel sympathy for you. No. They just don't include both spots in their area of expertise.
25 Years to the Date
Twenty five years to the date that I was born, my mother was diagnosed, again, with some sort of cancer. I believe it was a cancerous tumor between her large and small intestine.
I won't bore you with a lot of details, but, she did deal with multiple trips to the hospital, she started a course of chemotherapy, and then, for some reason decided the whole process was a lie and decided to let the cancer take its course.
By the end, which was the time period from June to the following March, she went through multiple surgeries, which caused more complications. More drugs, which had side effects. Finally, the blood thinners for the veins that were plugging up, and the cancers that ravaged her body and filled all her organs with cancer.
Her doctor performed a final exploratory in the end of February, which confirmed suspicion that all was not going well inside my mother's body. They were right. She had about two weeks of suffering to go, and then, she was going home.
To God. My mother died at 10 p.m. at night on March 8, 1988, just months shy of her 62nd birthday.