CANCER IS A PUNK
That's Right, I Said It! A Punk! But it can definitely take it out of you. No Joke.
My story and advice to those living with cancer.
THE BIG BAD "C" CAN BE BEAT
4 YEARS IN HELL AND BACK
At the age of 13, I was diagnosed with Osteogenic Sarcoma of the Right Distal Ulna. Sounds pretty scary, doesn't it? Simply put, I had bone cancer with a huge malignant tumor growing out of my right ulna. This is the small forearm bone which allows you to rotate your hand and wrist. This was in 1987 and although medical science had made great strides in this field, it was still nowhere near as advanced as it is today. I was a healthy, robust, and highly athletic kid. There was no history of cancer in my family as far as I know because I do not know my biological mother or her side of the family.
LANCE ARMSTRONG ( Brain, Lung, Testicular Cancer )
My stepmother first took me to Asian herbal doctors and we even tried acupuncture to relieve the extreme swelling and throbbing pain within my arm, but to no avail. Finally, we went to the University of Southern California Medical Center where I was given a CAT scan. I knew it was going to be bad when right away I had an allergic reaction to the injected iodine and broke out in severe hives and grotesque swelling of my lips. I looked like a Korean Fat Albert. They switched to X-ray Dye and completed the CAT scan. They found it to be a tumor and the next week I went to the Orthopedic Hospital down the street from U.S.C. to get a biopsy done. It was malignant, but luckily had not spread beyond my right arm. At first , the doctor's diagnosis of my situation brought him to utter the horrifying word, 'amputation.' Words like tumor, cancer, and lose your arm are terrifying words for anyone, let alone a 13 year old kid who had barely been sick a day in his life. I remember being absolutely frantic to say the least.
CHRISTINA APPLEGATE ( Breast Cancer )
AND SO THE PAIN BEGINS
A NIGHTMARE OF A START
My doctor recommended immediate treatment to shrink the tumor before surgery and so I was scheduled for 3 Angiograms (pictures of veins and arteries) along with a battery of chemo drugs, but it started out even worse than the CAT scan. The tube they had inserted through the major artery in my groin area, all the way up through my body, past my shoulder and down into my right arm, ended up hitting a nerve which caused an excruciatingly painful blood clot which they had to surgically remove. I then spent the next 2 days in ICU. Needless to say, it was a nightmare and this being just the first of three initial treatments was not an encouraging thought.
COLIN POWELL ( Prostate Cancer )
THE CURE AND TREATMENT
On a more positive note, my orthopedic surgeon had brought in a hand specialist and they devised a purely experimental but revolutionary idea to remove the malignant part of my ulna and screw the remaining portion of it to my radius, which is the big bone in your forearm. The theory was that over time, it would fuse together into a one-bone forearm. The goal was to save my arm and fore-go amputation which I was extremely grateful for. My Oncologist also wanted to use a brand new and also experimental drug called Cisplatin, made with the metal platinum and which made me violently ill. It was a plan for an all out aggressive chemotherapy campaign along with another pinkish-red colored drug called Adriamycin, which ultimately made my hair fall out. I remember us having to sign a bunch of waiver and disclaimer forms, making me a complete guinea pig. At this point in time, I was in the process of graduating from junior high school and had to graduate wearing a baseball cap because of the beginning of my hair loss. The despair I felt at waking up in the morning with clumps of hair all over my pillow, and in the drain of my shower is something that I don't think I could ever fully describe. One week after my third Angiogram, they felt the tumor had been reduced in size enough to perform the surgery. I was under for 7 and a half hours and upon waking, experienced the most extreme thirst from the anesthesia, and pain so intense that I literally begged for pain killer shots every 10 minutes for 3 days after the surgery. I was a 13 year old kid begging for shots so you can only imagine. I went on to have chemo treatments every other week till i was 16 years old and have now been in remission for 19 years.
REACTION TO CANCER
HOW DO YOU THINK YOU MIGHT REACT TO THE NEWS OF HAVING CANCER?
EDIE FALCO ( Breast Cancer )
DEALING WITH THE ILLNESS
MY LIST OF ADVICE
Now, I would like to share some of the things I did which made my life a little easier while dealing with the sickness involved with treatment.
1. Optimism and positive thinking are an absolute must in order to come out of the experience somewhat complete. You may at times go through depression, almost to the point of suicidal thoughts and you may sometimes wish to just end it all as long as you don't have to be sick and in pain anymore. But, in this I can only say "DON'T BE A PUNK!!" That's right,that's what I said. You must fight. You Must Fight! YOU MUST FIGHT!!! No one can do this for you and no matter how much support you may get from family and friends they will not completely understand what you are going through unless they have been through it themselves.
2. Everyone generally reacts differently to the different kind of drugs used. I have heard of people who didn't lose their hair, or wasn't made utterly sick and unable to keep food down. I experienced all of the above and what I found is that while you are in the sick zone, it is always best to eat plain, non-greasy or heavy foods. Drink things that are sweet like nectar or lemon lime soda so that the taste and acids aren't so bad when you have to give praise to the porcelain god every 30 minutes like i did.
3. Instead of dealing with the gradual hair loss and seeing it on your pillow every day, you may want to go ahead and shave your head beforehand and save yourself the sorrow of the loss. This is exactly what I did after suffering through it for almost a month.
4. Don't be scared to seek out and speak to others who may be going through the same ordeal because you may be able to find some kind of peace or solace in the knowledge that you are truly not alone.I found that people who tried to console me became somewhat wearisome and patronizing when they were not sick or going through what i was going through.
5. Stay as busy and active as your condition allows because as the saying goes, "An idle mind is a devil's workshop." Laying there feeling sorry for yourself and constantly asking , "why me?" is not conducive to healing either physically or mentally. Not to say that I did not have all of those negative thoughts, all I am saying is that you must always think to outweigh the negatives with abundantly more positives. As examples, constantly tell yourself things like,"I am still here, I still have a chance, I'm going to get through this with the help and love of my family and friends, I am Spartacus!, etc. I did not come from a very loving or supportive home. My father and step-mother tended to make me feel like a burden, or a bad person for having gotten sick, but I made it because I constantly reinforced myself with positive thoughts of myself and my self worth.
6. Always keep in mind that no matter how bad you think your position is, there is always somebody out there who might be in an even worse predicament than you. It's like the story of the man complaining about not having any shoes, until he saw the man with no feet.
7. Sometimes you have to almost have the patience of Jesus to combat the truly ignorant individuals you may run in to during your crisis. I remember some people laughing about my baldness and the elaborate plastic cast I had on my arm. I mean, I heard it all from, "Golden Child" to "RoboHong." I won't lie and say it doesn't hurt or anger you, but what are you going to do? Open fire with a sniper rifle from atop the conservatory? Instead of doing something as incredibly twisted and stupid as that, I always found it easier to ignore it, or if you feel the need to confront the idiot, then make use of a severe tongue lashing. If you don't know how, then I encourage you to visit my other lens called, "INSULTS 101" at www.squidoo.com/funnyinsults. I think you can enlighten yourself in the art of verbal roasting and counter-attack there.
JOHN KERRY ( Prostate Cancer )
AND SO THIS LENS COMES TO A CLOSE
MY WORDS OF INSPIRATION
In ending I say to all of you struggling with this illness, "KEEP ON FIGHTING THE FIGHT!!!" Be strong for yourself if nothing else. You are worth it. To those who are unfortunately not as blessed as I have been, I say "I MAY NOT KNOW YOU, AND YET I DO. I LOVE YOU DEARLY AND WISH YOU WELL." I know these words may not change your situation or outlook, but please, I urge you to live your life with an all out and never say die attitude. It may make all the difference, because you most certainly will have nothing to lose by doing so.
Most importantly my friends, remember that YOU ARE NOT ALONE in this fight. There is an army of us out there sharing in this. I am just an Average Joe, but perhaps you will recognize some of these other people, above and below, who are also SURVIVORS AND FIGHTERS!
THE "C" WORD
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH ANY VARIATION OF CANCER? IF SO, WHAT KIND?
FRAN DRESCHER ( Uterine Cancer )
KYLIE MINOGUE ( Breast Cancer )
MELISSA ETHERIDGE ( Breast Cancer )
OLIVIA NEWTON JOHN ( Breast Cancer )
RICHARD ROUNDTREE ( Male Breast Cancer )
ROBERT DENIRO ( Prostate Cancer )
ROD STEWART ( Thyroid Cancer )
RUDY GIULIANI ( Prostate Cancer )
SHERYL CROWE ( Breast Cancer )
CHARLIE WATTS ( Throat Cancer ) Stones Drummer
PATRICK SWAYZE ( Pancreatic Cancer )
STEVE JOBS ( Pancreatic Cancer )
JOE TORRE ( Prostate Cancer )
KEN GRIFFEY, SR. ( Prostate Cancer ) / ALBERTA GRIFFEY ( Colorectal Cancer )
SUZANNE SOMERS ( Breast Cancer )
NELSON MANDELA ( Prostate Cancer )
KATHY BATES ( Ovarian Cancer )
TOM GREEN ( Testicular Cancer )
CHARLESTON HESTON ( Survived Prostate Cancer 1998 , Died of Alzheimers 2008 )
DAN ABRAMS ( Testicular Cancer )
SCOTT HAMILTON ( Testicular Cancer )
RICHARD BELZER ( Testicular Cancer )
IN MEMORIUM. CELEBRITIES WHO LOST THEIR FIGHT AGAINST CANCER
May God Bless Them and Keep Them. R.I.P
Unfortunately, not everyone is as fortunate as I, and countless others have been. I give tribute to those who have tragically fallen during their fight with Cancer.
Below is a short list of famous idols and icons who fell to Cancer.