Today is World Cancer day, a day designated to raise awareness and share information about cancer. Today’s post includes some facts about cancer, a personal story from Karen Charbonneau, and some local resources for preventative care and raising awareness.
This year the focus of World Cancer Day to “Dispel damaging myths and misconceptions about cancer”. The Union For International Cancer Control (UICC) published the following information on their site regarding misconceptions and myths about cancer:
You can find more information about World Cancer Day and ways you can help raise awareness here at the official site for World Cancer Day.
In honor of World Cancer Day, Guest blogger, Karen Charbonneau, shares her personal story of cancer within her family and the importance of preventative care.
“My ______ Has Cancer” Too many of us have had to make this statement, and reluctantly fill in the blank, just as I recently did with my mother. I took a leave of absence from writing my blog, a few months more than I expected. Though I knew that I would restart my blog, to share my personal experience, I honestly just wasn’t ready to write about it quite yet. While writing about difficult things can be healing, it also forces you to relive unpleasant experiences.
Yes, this past May my mother was told she has breast cancer. To start on a positive note, the initial news was the worst part of this story. Upon first hearing the words from her mouth, my immediate thoughts (and I found out my mother’s as well) was the story of my grandmother, my mother’s mother, who died of breast cancer many years ago. My grandmother died in her late 50’s, much too young, and I always felt robbed of experiences we could have shared together. I have tears coming to my eyes just writing about it now. Funny how the mind plays back previous experiences and you can relate that experience to the current one.
After my mother’s initial diagnosis, it seemed forever before we would know how “bad” the cancer was and what could be done. I think the waiting was just as emotionally draining as the initial news. Days of waiting turned into weeks. You just want to walk into the doctor’s office and scream “just tell me it’s going to be okay and what we are going to do about this!”
The doctor’s tests and results finally came back, and prognosis was optimistic, even considering we were talking about the big C. Surgery was scheduled to remove the tumor. Tests showed the cancer had not spread beyond the tumor. Post-surgery treatment included six weeks of a low dose radiation. My Mom did not experience any major side effects, she felt a little tired, but living with my sister’s family, and their active (teenagers!) lives, during those 6 weeks was just as stressful as radiation five days a week for six weeks. She has a great prognosis right now!
The best thing my mother did and that anyone can do is to make sure they get their annual checkups. The cancer was detected extremely early, thank goodness, and the early detection made all the difference in her life. My mother did not have any inkling that she had cancer, no real symptoms, nothing! Too often I hear people say they feel fine; my mother said the same thing the day she was told she had cancer. Feeling fine is a wonderful thing. Being fine is another. Annual checkups are not just for women; men need to have checkups that should be done regularly too.
Life is short. Preventive care may change the outcome, the level of effective treatment, and the overall quality of one’s life. What I know is, I’m thankful my mother did her preventive care and I’m thankful medicine has improved so dramatically. And finally, I and your loved ones thank you for scheduling your next appointment for preventive care. We all want to live, love and play together for a long time!
Saratoga County Cancer Resources
- Cancer Services Program of Saratoga County : Free cancer screenings for uninsured patients.
- To Life; Breast Cancer Support & Education: Resources on breast cancer detection and treatment, also provides support services to breast cancer patients, caregivers, family and friends.
- Relay for Life: You can find search for local Relay for Life events.
- The American Cancer Society: Has a local office is Latham.
Please feel free to add additional resources in comments below or on our facebook page.