Tag Archives: Treatment

A Cancer Tale

I am a survivor of that killer disease, cancer. Though not nearly as much a “survivor” as many others who’ve been ravaged by such a heart-rendering, destroying beast.

Thirty years ago, while I was working on my bachelor’s degree at a small Texas college in the Big Bend of Texas (Sul Ross State College), my wife (at the time), Lucy, also a student, had a bad case of the flu (t’weren’t no flu shots back then). So we were visiting the college’s infirmary. The college’s doctor (so many years ago I just can’t recall his name) casually noticed a dime-sized lump on my left wrist where I normally wore my wrist watch.

“Doc” looked at it, rubbing it gently with his thumb and said, “When you bring Lucy back next week I want to look at it again.

Thinking little of it, I dropped Lucy off at our little college apartment and back to the college to run a printing press as one of my part-time jobs to supplement my GI Bill income.

Next week I took Lucy back to the infirmary. The lump on my wrist had grown to the size of a quarter. “I want to do a biopsy,’ Doc said. I had no idea what he was talking about, asking my new wife, “What’s a biopsy?” as we headed for classes. At 26 I’d never had a need for a doctor (other than childhood mumps) and knew virtually nothing about cancer or any other ailment that “old folks get.”

A week later, the lump had grown to almost the size of a half-dollar. By the time Doc had sliced out a piece of the lump using a local anesthetic (I watched with fascination as he removed a small piece of the lump, grayish matter and a lot of blood, but felt nothing but giddy).

I wish I could remember his name. I can see his face, even today, mindful of some Normal Rockwell painting of a family doctor. I only remember that he did needlework to keep his fingers nimble, and had framed needlework all over his office.

A few days later, at around 5 a.m., Doc’s wife was pounding on our apartment door urging us to “get up, get dressed, and go see Doc.”

Bleary-eyed and confused, we dressed, jumped into the car and found Doc at the infirmary. “The biopsy came back,” he said. “The report is that you have a cancer called fibrosarcoma, We need to get you to a cancer hospital as quickly as possible. There are two,” he said, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and MD Anderson, in Houston. I’ll call and make all of the arrangements. Which one do you want to go to?

Alpine, Texas, where the college is located, is a long-mile from nowhere, so I chose MD Anderson, in Houston, thinking that at the very least, it’ll still be in Texas. “Good! Go home. Pack. And hit the road,” he said. This was on a Thursday. I’ll schedule you for intake Monday morning.”

Driving from Alpine to Menard (my home town and the residence of my parents and Lucy’s parents) is 300 miles. From Menard to Houston is 350 miles, so we had a 650 mile trip to make in four days. As students we barely had enough money for gas to reach Menard. I called my parents and they agreed to loan me $1,000 (“just in case”).

From Menard to Houston we made it Sunday evening after a couple of stops for watermelon … Lucy was pregnant with our first child and she craved watermelon… to my sister’s home in Houston. She was a stay-at-home mom with a young child. Jay, her husband, was a Coastguardsman.

Monday morning we gathered what I thought I’d need “for a couple of days at the hospital” … little did we know how long it was actually going to be.

By the end of the week I’d been through two surgeries. One to remove the cancer, and another a “prefusion” of mustard and nitrogen gas on my left arm. The process, I think, is still being used today, but it was “new stuff” back then. The process, basically, is to isolate my arm from the rest of my body with a heart-lung machine and pumping the mustard-nitrogen mixture through my blood vessels to “kill” any malignant tumor still possibly in my arm.

It was an amazing experience for me. I had an anesthesiologist from England, a Japanese doctor, a doctor from Tennessee, nurses from Mexico, Texas, Colorado, and New York.

I had many room mates during the three months stay at MD Anderson. An older woman (at least she was “old” to me at the time, probably about 50), with lung cancer who smoked constantly when she wasn’t in her bed (there were smoking areas at the hospital back then), and a young man, a truck driver, with a lump the size of a football on his leg. And his young wife. He’d been treated at the Hoxsey Clinic in Dallas (an alternative medicine clinic that treated cancer patients with herbs and such). The young couple has spent all they had on Hoxsey treatments, he lost their house, his truck, and now was losing his life.

I read, played checkers, and had numerous visits from my wife, Lucy, my sister and brother-in-law, and roamed the halls of the hospital bored to tears wearing a plaster cast from my chest to my left shoulder and down to my finger tips. My left arm was plaster-frozen in a perpetual semi-salute, but above my head. But, as hard as I’ve tried to remember, I don’t remember any pain, just boredom.

After about thee months I was given an out-patient status, having to stay with my sister’s family and returning to the hospital once a day for observation and consultation. That was miserable for me, for Lucy, and for my sister’s family. There was only one bed available for the two of us in her home, a single-wide bed on which both Lucy and I would sleep at night.

For the first few nights I’d roll over and conk Lucy with my hard plaster cast, but we finally worked out a system so she didn’t get beat to death. And because it was so difficult for me to dress myself in regular clothes, Lucy bought me a brand new red swim suit I could wear around the house. And that was a total disaster! Without thinking, Joanna, my sister, washed the bright red swim trunks in with her husband’s snow white Coast Guard uniforms. They came out pink! Would you believe a Coast Guardsman in a pink uniform?

After about a month of that the cast was removed and I was free to go home!

When we first arrived back at Sul Ross I was amazed at the number of faculty (and some students) who’d heard of my cancer. There was virtually mass hysteria as they went to get checkups for possible “cancer” afflictions. Thankfully, none showed up “diseased.”

Also, thankfully, the college gave me a reprieve form my course’s finals, except for my public speaking class. I’ve always been deadly afraid of speaking in public, so with a squeaky, chattering voice my final was a speech about my “cancer.” I passed. I know not how, but I passed.

After graduation I took a job teaching at a high school in Winters, Texas, and for the next five years traveled to Houston twice a year for a check up, then for another five years once a year. From Winters to Houston is a long 380 miles. And at a teacher’s salary of only a little over $3,000 a year, the trips were costly. I made twenty 12-hour trips to Houston by bus reading and sleeping.

On my first bus trip to MD Anderson, I didn’t have enough money for a hotel room nor money for a taxi so I had to take a bus that put me in Houston at about 3 a.m., walking the ten miles from the bus station to the hospital and walking back to catch a bus back to Winters. That was the last time I’d ever try that. From that day forward I swore to save enough money without having to walk that ten miles at each visit..

I read a lot on those trips. The two I most remember was The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, by William Shirer, a 600 page tome, and The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant.

After ten years of poking and prodding, I was declared “90% cured,” and sent home for good.

The cost for those years of care? A few pints of blood thankfully donated by friends of my sister. And that was it.

Not another reoccurrence. At least not on my wrist. I was again diagnosed with a small cancer on the left side of my right eye about five years ago. It was removed in Columbia and I’ve had no occurrences since.

Perhaps the strange part about all of this is that I not once was frightened by the cancer nor concerned that I wouldn’t be “okay”. It just seemed to be an “is” and a “was.”

Doctors and hospitals come and go, I guess, but memories remain. MD Anderson and its wonderful nurses and doctors and all of the other staff will, forever, be a part of me.

But I was one of the lucky ones.

Pancreatic Cancer

What is the pancreas?

The pancreas in a six inch oblong gland, that is located just behind the stomach. There are two types of glands that make up the pancreas, the exocrine and the endocrine glands. The exocrine gland produces enzymes that aid in the digestion of fats, proteins and carbohydrates from the foods you eat. The endocrine gland secretes insulin and other hormones that help to regulate the metabolism of blood sugars in the body.

What is pancreatic cancer?

The most common form of pancreatic cancer is exocrine tumors.

Approximately 95% of all exocrine tumors are called adenocarcinoma. Adenocarcinoma most often form in the duct of the exocrine pancreas, but it can sometimes be formed in the cells that make up the enzymes. Exocrine tumors are in most cases fatal, due to the fact that when the tumor is extremely small, it is hard to detect. By the time a diagnosis is made, the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

Adenosquamous carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas, and giant cell carcinomas are less common forms of exocrine pancreas tumors.

Endocrine pancreas tumors are a rare form of pancreatic cancer. This type of tumors are called islet cell tumors, with many subtypes involved, depending on which hormone producing cell it starts in. These tumors typically grow slower and are often found early. Islet tumors are often treatable even after the cancer has spread.

Who is at risk for pancreatic cancer?

There is no known cause for pancreatic cancer. However there are many known risk factors, which can contribute to this disease. Many people will develop pancreatic cancer, that have no risk factors. On the other hand, many people who have risk factors, will not develop pancreatic cancer. If you are concerned that you may have any of the risk factors listed below, talk to your Doctor. He/she will be able to answer any concerns.

1. More men than women are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. 
2. Most pancreatic cancer is diagnosed in people over the age of 60. 
3. The risk for pancreatic cancer will triple, if anyone in your immediate family has had the disease. 
4. Chronic pancreatitis may increase the risk. 
5. African Americans are at a greater risk of developing pancreatic cancer. 
6. If you have diabetes, you are at a greater risk. 
7. Smokers are at a 50% to 75% greater chance of developing pancreatic cancer, than those who do not smoke. 
8. Those who have a diet high in fat content are at risk. 
9. Exposure to some chemicals could increase your risk of pancreatic cancer.

What are the symptoms of pancreatic cancer?

Often there are no symptoms of pancreatic cancer until the disease in the advanced stages. Once the symptoms start to appear, they will include the following.

1. Upper abdominal and upper back pain. 
2. Jaundice, which is a yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes and may include dark colored urine. 
3. Weight loss. 
4. Decreased appetite. 
5. Upset stomach and vomiting. 
6. Depression.

How is pancreatic cancer diagnosed?

There are many tests that your doctor may perform in order to diagnose pancreatic cancer. These include, but are not limited to the following.

1. A physical examination to look for signs of jaundice. Your doctor may examine your abdomen by feeling for changes or excessive water buildup around the pancreas, gall bladder or liver. 
2. Lab tests such as blood, urine and stool samples to check for abnormalities. 
3. An ultrasound to create images of your pancreas or other internal organs. 
4. CT scan which uses x-ray images, usually used with a type of dye that is injected into a vein This dye helps to enhance the pancreas images. 
5. MRI which creates an image of the pancreas by using a magnetic field and radio waves. 
6. ERCP is where a small lighted tube is placed into the stomach, through the mouth, to the beginning of the small intestine. Then a catheter is placed inside the lighted tube and into the ducts of the pancreas. A small amount of dye is injected into the ducts and an x-ray is taken. 
7. A biopsy may be performed, by taking tissue samples of the pancreas and checking for cancer cells. The sample may be obtained by inserting a needle through the abdomen, into the pancreas.

Staging pancreatic cancer.

Once the doctor has diagnosed pancreatic cancer through a series of tests, the pancreatic cancer must be staged. This will determine how advanced the pancreatic cancer has become. Staging will help your doctor to determine the method of treatment you are most likely to benefit from. Tests that will help to determine which stage of pancreatic cancer you have include the following. 
1. Laparoscopy is where a lighted tube which is equipped with a video camera is inserted through a small incision into the abdomen. The video is observed by the doctor, to see if the cancer has spread to your abdomen. 
2. Blood tests to determine if your blood contains tumor markers termed CA19-9. The more your blood levels of CA19-9 are elevated, the more progressed your pancreatic cancer. 
3. Chest x-ray to see if the pancreatic cancer has spread to the lungs. 
4. MRI to see if the pancreatic cancer has spread to surrounding tissue. 
5. CT scan will help the doctor to see the pancreas and help him determinine if the pancreatic cancer has spread to other areas. 
6. A bone scan may be performed to determine if the cancer has spread to the bones.

The stages of pancreatic cancer.

Stage l: The cancer has not spread from the pancreas. 
Stage ll: The cancer has spread from the pancreas to surrounding tissue and organs. 
Stage lll: The cancer has spread from the pancreas to the surrounding tissue and organs as well as to the major blood vessels and possibly spread to the lymph nodes. 
Stage lV: The cancer has spread from the pancreas to other organs such as the liver, lungs and the lining of the abdomen that surrounds your internal organs.

What is the treatment for pancreatic cancer?

The method of treatment for pancreatic varies with each patient and what stage the cancer has progressed to. Other variables include the persons age and overall health. Following is a list of options that your doctor may discuss with you, in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.

1. Surgery is not always an option with pancreatic cancer. When surgery can be performed, the type of surgery depends on the position of the tumor. A part or all of the pancreas may be removed, along with the spleen, part of the small intestine, bile duct and part of the stomach. 
2. Radiation therapy uses high energy rays to destroy cancer cells. Radiation therapy is often combined with chemotherapy before or after surgery. This combination may be recommended instead of surgery, if surgery is not an option. 
3. Chemotherapy uses drugs to target cancer cells and destroy them. Chemotherapy is often combined with radiation therapy to treat cancer that has spread from the pancreas to other organs. 
Chemotherapy may be combined with targeted drug therapy, to treat individuals with advanced pancreatic cancer. 
4. Targeted drug therapy is a new form of pancreatic cancer treatment. These drugs block chemicals needed by cancer cells to grow and divide. They are usually combined with chemotherapy in people with advanced pancreatic cancer. 
5. Clinical trials are test studies to see how a new drug, surgery or treatment will benefit pancreatic cancer. Talk to your doctor before joining a clinical trial to see if it is right for your condition.

What is the prognosis for pancreatic cancer?

The prognosis of pancreatic cancer is not a good one. The key to survival is catching this deadly disease in it’s early stages. Sadly to say, most pancreatic cancer is not diagnosed until it has reached advanced stages. The overall average survival rate of pancreatic cancer for 1 year is 20% and the 5 year survival rate is 4%.

Barbara’s Battle with Cancer

The Ups and Downs


I was in shock when my best friend called to say that she had cancer. I was dumbfounded as I listened to her telling me that she had ovarian cancer and would be having surgery in a few weeks. Numbness struck as I thought it is the week before Christmas; her favorite time of the year.

She survived the surgery and the prognosis was good. She would have to undergo radiation and chemo, but they were optimistic that they had gotten it all. I looked at her when she came home and was amazed, she was ashen and her bright eyes were dull. As usual, she was optimistic and raved about how she had lost so much weight. We joked as this was a constant battle for her.

Our lives changed drastically. We had always done shopping trips, lunches, get togethers and so much more. Little did we both realize that our lives for the next two years would revolve around doctor’s appointments, meal preparation and anything that had to do with this damned cancer.

The chemo treatments started. I took her to the treatments as I worked nights and her husband worked days, so it was easier. The chemo made her violently ill. She dreaded them as she started feeling good the day before the treatment and felt lousy the rest of the time.

Her appetite shrank as did her weight. She had no strength to cook and no interest in food. No problem, I would make extra when I fixed my families meals and bring over dinner. I tried everything and anything to tempt her appetite – nothing seemed to work. Every night I called and it was always the same, “it was good, but I just wasn’t hungry”.

The doctor’s decided that perhaps radiation would be better since the chemo was making her so ill. it did seem better she was not so violently ill, but there was no appetite. She said everything tasted like tin. I learned not to fix her favorites, to try other dishes and combinations. This seemed to work, but then nausea set in, everything made her sick. The doctor’s prescribed a pill for her that was supposed to lessen the nausea. These were like gold – $60 a pill and not covered by insurance.

During this time she developed a problem with her leg – it always ached and she never felt good. She had back problems due to her being so overweight. The leg and the back problems just added to the difficulty of her treatment.

So many times we would go for her radiation treatment to be told that the bed was not working, could we come back later, which we did. This took its toll on her as it was always the chore of getting there and having the treatment and leaving, when we had to wait or come back, it made it so much worse.

When the radiation was finally over, she went for her examination and the results were good – they could not find any trace of the cancer. It had been 6 months – we were overjoyed. Life started to get back to normal. Barbara’s appetite increased, she went back to work part time and all seemed well. We went on day trips, we did shopping and everything seemed to be back to normal. This was short lived.

I went over to take her to work one morning and she said that she didn’t feel well. I asked what was wrong and she said it wasn’t anything in particular, she just didn’t feel good. She made a doctor’s appointment and we went. They took more tests and could find nothing, maybe she was just tired. It didn’t change, she never felt good. We started going to her regular doctor, the cancer specialist, her allergist and an internist. No one could find anything. Yet, she didn’t feel good.

July 4th of 2000 came and we spent the day together. She and her husband came over for a barbecue and despite me having all her favorites, she barely ate a thing. We did a lot of laughing and enjoyed the day. The next day, she was vomiting and just didn’t feel good. Once again, we went to the same doctor’s and they could find nothing out of the ordinary. A blood test revealed that her levels were a little low. A liver scan was suggested for July 20th.

Barbara and I talked about everything, but for some reason we just could not talk about this liver scan. We did as much as we could in the two weeks before this scan. We went shopping, watched TV and just enjoyed being together. Going out was difficult as we now had a walker, cane and a pocketbook full of pills. We laughed and acted like this would go on forever.

July 19th came and we both thought that a special day would be appropriate. It was pouring that day, but we vowed not to let the rain dampen our spirits. We went up to the local farm and got some fresh picked corn on the cob and proceeded to the grocery store to get her a salmon steak – her absolute favorite. She suggested that we go to Stewart’s for lunch as she was craving their fish sandwich. As we were driving there, a deer ran in front of the car. We commented on how unusual it was to see a deer and how beautiful it was. Lunch was a disaster, nothing tasted good and she was too tired to eat. She asked if we could go home – this was not “my Barbara”.

Barbara, her walker, cane, pocketbook and I made it up the 19 stairs to her apartment and she laid down. Soon, it was time for me to go to work. We hugged each other and didn’t want to let each other go. I got called into work during the day on the 20th and could not go for her scan. She told me not to worry, her sister-in-law would take her and she would call me the minute it was over.

I called her the night of the 19th, but her husband said that she was asleep. The 20th came and I called her to wish her good luck and gave her my love. She reassured me that I would hear from her by 10:30 since the test was at 9:00. We told each other how much we loved each other. 10:30, 11:00, 11:30, 12:00; 12:30 came and went and no phone call. I called her husband at work and was told that he left and went to the hospital.

Panic set in. I called and got a wonderful operator who put me through to the emergency room where she was. She had an effect from the scan, and was not doing well. Her heart rate was not good, her breathing was shallow and she was in pain. I called again and spoke to her – she was so weak, she said “thanks, sorry I didn’t call you – I love you”. I told her how much I loved her.

Finally, her husband called, when they did the scan she had been full of cancer and the scan released the cancer into her system. She had about 48 to 72 hours. I was in shock. I went to the hospital and after much hassle finally was allowed in to see her. I was not family. I looked at her – gone was the radiant color in her cheeks, the bright, sparkly eyes never opened. I held her hand and told her that I loved her and I felt a slight squeeze on my hand. It must have been a reflex I was told, she was in a coma. Barbara left us on July 20th at 1:14 a.m.

Lung Cancer: Guide to Signs and Symptoms

When my father was rushed to the best cardiac hospital in Las Vegas, NV following an episode of chest pains and shortness of breath while he was at work, we all just sort of knew that it wasn’t a heart attack. Just like we knew that it wasn’t the Tuberculosis or chest infection that they originally thought it might be after ruling out a heart attack. And when he was sent home with medications to treat the Staph infection that the doctors all agreed was causing his symptoms, we watched him closely.

Six months went by and his cough only worsened. He lost weight. He had no energy. And he just looked ‘sick’. When he went back this time, the doctors had an answer – cancer.

The amount of misdiagnosed cases of lung cancer in the United States is staggering. Sometimes the misdiagnoses don’t affect the outcome. My dad’s lung cancer was terminal even before he was rushed to the hospital with the possible symptoms of a heart attack. Had he been diagnosed with the cancer he had, any treatment they could’ve given him would’ve only prolonged his life by a few more months.But in other cases, had a patient been diagnosed correctly and gotten the proper treatment the first time, a life could’ve been saved, or at least prolonged enough to make a positive difference in that person’s life, and the lives of their friends and family.

But to look at it another way, had my father gone to a doctor about his worsening cough instead of just passing it off as his “Smoker’s Cough” getting worse as he got older, that doctor may have found the cancer before it became terminal and took his life. Looking back, there were many symptoms that even those around him noticed that pointed to cancer long before the seriousness of his illness hit our family full force. Hindsight is always perfect. But at the time those symptoms seemed benign and were easy to brush off as something that wasn’t so serious a thought as the idea of cancer.

According to the Mayo Clinic, lung cancer does not usually show many symptoms in the early stages. Because of this, you’ll want to go for regular check-ups. Sticking with the same doctor can help someone to get to know you, as well as your body, so that they notice small changes in your health and can check for problems such as cancer should it be warranted. This is especially true if you are at risk for lung cancer because you smoke, have been around smokers, there is a family history of lung cancer or you have been exposed to radon gas, asbestos or other carcinogens during your lifetime (especially prolonged exposure).

When the signs and symptoms of lung cancer do start to show themselves, they can be varied in type and also in intensity. How you feel may lead you to think you are coming down with a cold, or it could send you to the Emergency Room. Often times the milder symptoms are overlooked or passed off as something else until there’s no overlooking the fact that you’re sick, and the idea that it might be cancer.

Cancer in general usually leads to some basic symptoms once it has spread to a certain point or is attacking the body. Unexplained weight loss should be monitored and should be looked at by a doctor if not controlled. Many signs resemble the common flu with fever and fatigue. Depending on where the cancer is, it can lead to pain in those areas – the pain can be mild or severe. The skin can also be an indicator of cancer if it becomes darker, yellow, reddened, itchy, or if you experience more hair growth than normal.

Most of those symptoms are not something that you would rush in to see a doctor about until they became excessive or started to interfere with your daily life.

Lung cancer itself can have some very distinctive signs, though. When most people think about lung cancer they think of the coughing that is usually associated with it. Coughing up blood, even just a tinge of red, can be an indicator of many respiratory illnesses and should be looked at, even if just to rule out cancer. Related to that, a steady or chronic cough is common among early lung cancer patients. If you’ve smoked for awhile, you may have what is known as “Smoker’s Cough” and if this worsens over a short period of time you’ll want to get yourself checked out. Even if your symptoms are not pointing to lung cancer, they may be pointing to another respiratory illness such as emphysema or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) that will need treatment to keep from worsening.

Once the cancer has progressed, more definite signs of lung cancer are wheezing, hoarseness when talking, and shortness of breath. This is caused by the body being unable to get enough oxygen through the increasingly damaged lungs. Chest pain may lead many to think they are having a heart attack, especially when experienced with the shortness of breath, as in my father’s case.

What this comes down to is this… If you’re feeling any of these symptoms, it may be because of a respiratory illness, an infection, or even a chest cold. But if you are at risk for lung cancer, and you don’t feel right, you’re coughing, losing some weight, or especially if you are feeling chest pain, then get to a doctor and get yourself looked at. If caught early, lung cancer can be treated in most cases, but you’ll need to undergo a battery of tests that can include X-rays, CT scans, or even a biopsy to determine what the best treatment plan for you would be. Your doctor will give you options, and it is up to you to weigh the outcomes.

Knowing your body, taking care of it with a healthy diet and exercise, and being conscious of your risks for lung cancer can go a long way to keeping yourself healthy, happy, and productive for a long time to come.

Sources

Lung cancer

Mayo Clinic

Signs & Symptoms of Cancer

American Cancer Society

Lung Cancer Symptoms

LungCancer.Org

A Healing of Cancer and a Faith in God

Her cancer treatments began seven months ago when she was diagnosed with lung cancer. I remember coming to her home last June and seeing her with her daughter, sitting on the couch.

Tears filled her eyes as her broken words filled my ears. I heard her say, “I’m going to die.”

Being set back for just a moment, I replied with, “ok… We all are going to die one day… What’s going on?”

That’s when she told me about the cancer. I took a breath and assured her that she wasn’t necessarily going to die. It was in Gods hands as to the pending results.

I told her my twin brother had Lymphoma cancer and he was supposed to be dead 20 years ago, yet he is still running around the beaches on the gulf coast.

I think what I said to her made her feel a little better, still I know her heart was filled with unknown fear. Her future was uncertain and being a widow of cancer and loosing a son to cancer, she cried outwardly and deep within her soul.

She asked me if I would leave her as her friend. I answered that when I make a friend, it’s solid through thick and thin and I would be there for her through the whole ordeal.

I told her that she had to promise me something from the get-go. I asked her to put it completely into Gods hands. To let God work through the doctors to heal her. I asked her to believe this and for argument sake to just believe she was already healed. She again asked me to help her through and to help her believe.

Immediately, we began to read the New Testament and pray on an every day basis. It wasn’t much longer when she asked if she could be baptized at the local church. We contacted the preacher of the church, told him of her situation, and requested him to fulfill her wishes. After he discussed the mater with her, he set it up and that alone brightened her outlook to a new, positive one.

She began her treatments as required by the doctors and I encouraged her in her daily treatments of Gods word.

Time went by slowly for her and soon her fears of loosing her hair began to surface. I, being the comic I am, made jokes about it and kept her laughing. I said she could be a female Ko-jack, a GI Jane, or a real chrome dome. I volunteered to polish it for her so she could let her light shine. I know it all was stupid or silly but it kept her mind off of her problems.

She still refused to totally drop the hair thing and so soon enough we were visiting wig stores. That was fun! Have you ever gone into one of those places and just tried them on for the fun of it?

It was the visits to the cancer center that saddened me as I stood by my promise to go with her. I saw people with all sorts of cancer, people who had a cancer and refused to quit the cigarettes, people that cheerfully went about their lives and being torn up on the inside didn’t let it show. I saw people that looked like and acted like they were already dead. Still mostly, there was laughter and friendships being made as each person waited on their turn to be treated.

They compared their treatments with each other and encouraged each other as the days turned into months. Some people didn’t fair well throughout the process and some did very well, yet I saw a bonding between the center staff and the patients, a bonding of friends who shared a common foe, a bonding of Christians and Non – Christians alike.

It amazed me how even the staff and the doctors encouraged prayer. It was said by one doctor that he could only point the radiation at the cancer but it was up to God if it was to do any good. I heard another doctor say that he had done all that he could but the rest was in Gods hands.

It amazed me that each and every person working in the center felt that strongly about their faith but I didn’t stop to think that they see and go through the demons of cancer on a daily basis; that they made a career doing it.

I smile at this thought and a twinkle enters the corner of my eye. I am so thankful to have made this journey, to see and hear what I have. I am truly grateful to have been a part of these peoples lives.

My friend has finished her treatments now and after her last pet scan, she was told by the radiation doctor that there was no evidence of the cancer on the x-rays. Today, the cancer doctor told her she was doing well and that her cancer had gone into remission.

This time I saw her with tears of joy as she praised God.

It’s not over yet, she still has to follow up and be monitored for the coming years because unfortunately cancer can rear its ugly head again.

Now she feels Gods hand on her life and she knows the rest of the journey will be a good one and made with smiles. “Ain’t God Good!”

What to Eat After Cancer

One thing that helps prevent cancer and helps prevent the re-occurrence of cancer is the way we eat. Once we have been given the clean bill of health, we need to watch what we eat. How we eat makes a big difference in our health and our energy levels. Sometimes after surviving cancer or being told we have cancer we need to change our eating habits. There are dangers within many of the common things that we eat daily. Cancer makes us take a more active role in paying attention to the things we cook, and even what we eat when we eat out.

MEAT

A staple in any meal is meat of any sort. Beef has many different dangers, raw or medium rare meats can be the most dangerous thing for our health. According to E. coli: Dangers of eating raw or uncooked foods, the bacteria exists in many animals, most commonly cattle. If beef has the bacteria and isn’t properly cooked it could be passed on to us. Beef also contains other bacteria that could be very dangerous for us and cause us to get sick. One of the things my doctors told me was to never eat rare or medium rare beef.

While there are dangers of eating uncooked beef, there are benefits to eating fully cooked beef such as the proteins and other minerals it contains. Fully cooked beef and other meats could help provide the daily requirement for iron, which is something we all need. According to Benefits of beef article a research study done at Purdue University found “that that CLA (polyunsaturated fats) slows or reverses skin, breast, and stomach cancers in laboratory rats and mice at all three stages of tumor development. That study is interesting and holds a lot of importance for those of us with cancer.

VEGGIES

Fresh fruits and vegetables hold many benefits for us. They all hold different nutrients and vitamins that we all need to remain healthy. Many articles have stated that vegetables have different antioxidants that help stop certain cancers from forming in the body. That is something we all need to pay attention too. We don’t want cancer to reoccur so why not try eating more vegetables. The vitamin C in vegetables can help reduce stress and repair the body after long bouts with stress.

Vegetables have high fiber contents which help make the digestive system more healthier and toned. Vegetables also have proteins that meats do as well as amino acids that our bodies need to survive. When we have cancer, our bodies need various different amino acids, fibers, antioxidants and more to help keep our energy levels high and they can help keep us from getting very sick during chemotherapy treatments.

SUGAR

Ah sugar. We all love sugar in all forms, but sugar can be really dangerous for us especially if we have cancer. It has been found that cancer feeds off of sugar, so while going through treatments and eating after treatments we need to cut out as much sugar as we possible can. That doesn’t mean we can’t have sweeteners like honey or splenda, but we should really cut down on them. We need to learn how to control glucose levels through how we eat, exercise, supplements and if needed prescription medication.

Some things we can substitute for white sugar would be honey, splenda, sweet and low. I prefer honey because of the taste and that it is more natural than other sweeteners, but you really need to do research in order to cook with honey and make the right substitutes. It works best in teas like green tea, adds to the taste and really sweetens it better than sugar.

A great recipe to cook of Autumn Greens And Apple Salad. I know it sounds different and it is a different kind of salad than many of us are used to, but isn’t that the point to try new things? Here is the recipe for it:

INGREDIENTS

¼ cup EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
2 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
½ shallot finely shopped
3 rib celery, thinly sliced on an angle
2 crisp Gala apples thinly sliced
1 small head red leaf lettuce torn into pieces
½ small head green leaf lettuce
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds (toasted)
1/3 cup sunflower seeds

In a large salad bowl, whisk together the evoo, vinegar, shallot, salt, pepper then add the celery and apples then toss. Add the lettuce and toss again. Top it off with the seeds.

You can easily add some nicely grilled chicken sliced or even fully cooked steak sliced for a variation of the recipe. You can try different apples or different kinds of seeds or even granola to top it off. The main point is try and take some things out of our diet and replace them with more healthy things. We need to pay close attention to what we are putting into our bodies, especially after having cancer.

Help for Those Facing Cancer or a Possible Cancer Diagnosis

Common Cancer Terms Defined


When I was young, my mom once called me “Sissy Cystie.” We did not understand I had a genetic condition causing cysts, benign tumors, and in a few cases cancers. We had hope my body would eventually grow out of the terrible phase. We were in the midst of much confusion. Upon learning I have Multiple Hamaratoma Syndromeall joking in regard to what I experienced was over. People with MHS form lumps and bumps in various places of their bodies. I am no stranger to finding lumps in various places of my body whether accidentally or on scans. I understand the reaction of confusion and fear..

The first question when finding something unusual should be “is it benign or malignant?” Because there is always a question, it is important to go to the doctor for a scan before you notice any changes in the lump. People experience confusion with the words benign and malignant at times. 
benign tumor is not a harmless tumor. Many people die due to the effects of benign tumors. Benign tumors can be dangerous because of where they grow-certain places of the brain, for example. Benign tumors can also be dangerous if they grow to be very large. I had benign cysts covering my thyroid gland and if they were not removed, I would not be able to breathe by now due to the size they were approaching. . A benign tumor is one that will not spread to other areas of the body.

Malignanttumors are the cancerous ones and because they spread to other organs in the body they are the more feared. Usually tumors work by shutting off at least some function of whatever organ from which they originate. Benign tumors stay with the same organ even though they may grow.Malignant tumors move around to other organs. If the malignancy, or cancer, is not caught in time, malignant tumors spread to other organs and eventually stop their function. When a malignant tumor has spread, it is referred to as metastasized.

Relapse and recurrenceare terms sometimes causing confusion.. To relapse means the cancer returns in a period of five years or less following cessation of treatment. Survival odds usually reflect cure rates by those who survive for a period of five years or more after treatment ceases. Cancer can return after five years. The exact odds are not known but it does happen. The dysgerminoma I was diagnosed with at age nine returned when I was fifteen, for example.

When cancer comes back after a period of five years, the technical term to use is recurrence. My dysgerminoma case was treated as a recurrence. Someone who has a recurrence is treated as having two separate cases of the disease. Because I had two cases of dysgerminoma and have been free from both cancers for longer than five years, medical statistics reflect this as two cases of survival.

Remission is the word all cancer survivors hope for and it is the word used when cancer appears to be gone. Someone in remission has been free from cancer based on scans for a period of less than ten years. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospitaldefines cure as being ten years from signs of the initial cancer. Patients become alumni and are dismissed from the hospital during their tenth year in remission. This is information I did not find online but know from personal experience.

Some long-term survivors of cancer may face asecondary diagnosis leading to more confusion. Some chemotherapy, radioactive scans, and radiation may increase the odds of another type of cancer. In my case, I was free from dysgerminoma for fifteen years the second time when I was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ. The odds of a secondary cancer diagnosis are different depending on age, tumor type, strength and use of different chemotherapy types, radiation, genetic conditions that cause a tendency to form cancer, and other factors.

Secondary cancer diagnoses are a confusing condition to describe as two cancers appearing at the same time can mean metastasizedcancer or two different types of cancer. In these cases, secondary cancer diagnosis usually means the first location of the cancer is the primary cancer diagnosis and the place where it has moved to is secondary. Cases of two different types of cancer such as brain cancer and thyroid cancer appearing at the same time tend to be rare and as such may not have a medical term to define them. In some cases, two different types of cancer may be present in the same organ. When two different types of cancer are in the same organ, such as the breast, the more aggressive type becomes the major focus.

While aspects of what I have written are frightening, even to myself who has been through a recurrence and a secondary cancer diagnosis, it is important to know these occurrences are rare. Also, if you succeed in winning the battle against one cancer type it does not mean you will not win the battle against a secondary one. The important take away from this is to have unusual lumps checked out as soon as possible. If there appears to be cancer, it is important to live your life one day at a time. If the lump is cancer, do not assume it to be the end of the world. My first cancer diagnosis was 24 years ago this approaching October 7 and I am not alone among the survivors.

*A lot of personal experience

What Not to Say to the Parent of a Child with Cancer

My son was diagnosed with brain cancer in April 2006, just a month after his tenth birthday. Even though he was flown from San Antonio to Houston, TX – to MD Anderson Cancer Center no less – it took me a couple of days to get it through my head that my child had cancer. I kept thinking, “It’s going to be a benign
‘growth’ . . . nothing malignant.” Seriously, how could my perfectly healthy son have cancer, right?

Wrong. Keeghan’s tumor was malignant. But after two surgeries, six weeks of radiation, and a year (so far) of chemotherapy, he is tumor free. It will be my daily – hourly? – wish, for the rest of my life, that he stays that way.

One of the hardest things to deal with when your child has cancer is the way in which other people react when you tell them, and the things that they say. It has been proven to me time after time that most people really don’t think before they open their mouths. They’ll say things like, “Oh, I knew someone that had the “c” word. She died.”

The “c” word. I’ve heard cancer referred to that way numerous times, as though actually saying it would cause a person to get it. It’s not contagious people!

At the grocery store one day, with Keeghan standing by my side, the cashier asks me, “Did he have an accident?”

Keeghan has a very large scar on the side of his head. It’s a nice scar as far as scars go. It’s perfectly symmetrical – four inches up on one side, five inches across, and another four inches down on the other side. It’s so perfect that my husband used to joke and say that it looked like a trap door. He’d tease Keeghan by telling people that that was where he kept his wallet.

So to be asked if he had an accident seemed pretty ludicrous. “Yes, he fell out of a tree and landed on a cookie cutter. Hence the perfect scar.”

I wish I had replied that way, but alas, I didn’t. “He had a brain tumor,” I say instead.

“Oh . . . is he going to be okay?” she then whispers.

Keeghan is ten years old. He has cancer. But he’s not deaf, nor is he a complete idiot! And he’s standing right next to me! Don’t talk about him like he’s not there or can’t understand you. He can. In fact, if you talk directly to him, he can answer any questions you might have about his story quite well. Luckily for me Keeghan replied to the woman’s question with a very ten-year-old appropriate, “Yep, I am.”

After the first three months of Keeghan’s treatment was finished, and before he started his year-long consolidation chemotherapy regimen, we moved from Texas to Washington, DC. Not long after we moved into our house, we got new neighbors. The kids and I were leaving the house to head to the hospital for chemo on the day I met the new neighbor Bob. He noticed that Keeghan had no hair, and that he wasn’t looking very happy. Keeghan never looks thrilled when he’s heading for chemo. Go figure.

I am of the opinion that it is better to just tell people up front that he has cancer rather than leave them trying to figure out how to ask. So I told Bob, “He has cancer – we’re on our way to the hospital now for his chemo treatment so he’s not in a very good mood.” 
Bob asks, “What kind of cancer?” I reply that it is brain cancer.

“Oh, wow. My old boss just died of that.”

I can only imagine what the look on my face was. Incredulous I’m sure. I was so glad that the kids were in the car by that time.

Are you completely stupid?” is what I should have asked the guy.

“Well, we’re hoping that isn’t going to happen to Keeghan,” was what I actually said. I’ve come to learn in the few months that we’ve now been neighbors that Bob never thinks before opening his mouth, so it wasn’t just that one incident. But that is the one that sticks in my mind.

What’s really funny to me, however, is how other parents of children with cancer are just as bad when it comes to the things they say. Soon after Keeghan was diagnosed, I ran into a woman at the clinic that I had known at a past assignment of ours, but hadn’t seen in a couple of years. Ironically, her daughter was the same age as Keeghan and had been diagnosed with leukemia a few months before Keeghan’s diagnosis. As we stood in the clinic talking, she asked me, “So what’s his prognosis? Haley’s is 30%. If we hadn’t gotten her diagnosed when we did, she would have died.”

All of that was said very quickly, in a tone of voice that was sort of like, “I’ll bet my kid is sicker than your kid.” Like this was a competition!

“Lady, if this is a contest to you, I hope that you win!”

You’re right, I didn’t actually say that. But I should have.

“I refuse to let the doctors put a number on Keeghan like that, and I don’t want Keeghan feeling like he doesn’t have a good chance to beat this. So I honestly don’t know what his prognosis is. In my mind, it will always be 100%.”

Even though I didn’t say what I should have said, I think what I did say got my point across. But she’s not the only one that has done that. Maybe it makes parents somehow feel better to play comparison, whose-child-is-more-sick, games like that. I can’t do it though. I want them ALL to be well.

Maybe there should be an awareness ribbon for foot-in-mouth disease. What color would it be – flesh? I don’t think that color is taken yet. Or perhaps someday I’ll write a book and call it “What Not to Say to the Parent of a Child With Cancer.” I doubt anyone would buy it though. Everyone thinks they know the right thing to say all the time.

So maybe I should title it, “Hey YOU! Don’t Be Stupid!” That might at least get someone to pick it up and read the back cover.

Maybe there’s no hope at all and people will continue forever to put their feet in their mouths. But perhaps a little awareness can turn the tide of stupidity.

Donice Mitchell – Life and Coping with Breast Cancer

When I take my hair off, my head looks like an egg, said Donice chuckling softly. She then lifted her wig and showed her completely baldhead, which was smooth and did resemble the top of a brown egg.

The tall, medium brown skinned women explained how after her first or second treatment of chemotherapy her hair just seemed to fall out in her hands, making it even more difficult to attempt to comb it. Thinning hair runs in her family, so she started wearing wigs years ago. It doesn’t bother her much not having hair, “I never had much hair anyway,” she admitted.

Losing hair was something that you had to prepare for according to her. She keeps her wigs brushed and curled, so we both laughed as she described some of the ratty, wild, and matted looking wigs she saw some of the women wearing while waiting for her chemotherapy.

Donice Glenda Evans was born the second eldest child to parents Violet and Isador Evans on February 23, 1955 in French Camp, CA. Her father was a preacher, so her family moved a lot when she was growing up, which to her meant constantly learning and adapting to new people and places. Her family settled in San Jose, CA in 1971, when her father became the pastor of the San Jose Ephesus Church.

Donice describes herself as shy, which may be because of the sheltered existence she had growing up. Her father was strict and held tightly to Christian values. She was not allowed to wear pants, at home or at the Seventh-day Adventist Christian schools she attended. Her dresses and skirts were required to be below her knees, she wore no jewelry, and was not allowed to go many places outside of church or school. She had never been one to rebel, so she kept her focus on school.

The rules she was subject to also caused her to be more cautious in all areas of life. Whenever her two brothers and two sisters would attempt to plan something mischievous she was always the voice of reason. They called her sister E.G. comparing her with a prophet of the Seventh-day Adventist church, Ellen G. White who has written numerous books on Christian etiquette, health, beliefs, etc.

Donice attended Oakwood College in Alabama for two years before deciding to finish her degree in communications at Loma Linda University. She was a junior in college when her father died from a massive heart attack. His death was traumatic for her family, especially her mother. Her family felt as if they had been outcast from the group of pastors and their families. Special events that they had become accustomed to attending, they were no longer invited to.

Although her father’s death saddened her deeply, she also felt a since of relief, because all the rules he had enforced for so many years were no longer in place. Though, now her faith in God is still strong, she tends to prefer a more relaxed approach to life and believes some things should be done in moderation.

What many would consider a late bloomer, she lived in her parent’s home until she was married. Donice met Donald Mitchell at the age of 25. The two dated for a while and both friends and family wondered if they would ever get married. After dating for five years the couple said their vows.

Donice confessed that she had always wanted five boys, but after trying several times to get pregnant and having five miscarriages she finally gave birth to a baby girl, whom she named Donique.

Donique, now 10 years old hugged her mother tight around the neck before going to the next room to study with her tutor. The brown skinned little girl, wears big frame glasses, and her hair is braided in several ponytails. Although she has special needs she does well in school and takes classes specified for her learning needs. “I just want to do good and help my daughter,” Donice explains.

Now, a technical writer for Juniper Networks, Donice’s career was always very important to her. While her husband flunked out of the two-year respiratory therapy program at Ohlone, she was excelling in her profession. After he decided to go to another respiratory therapy program, which was more expensive, and he had to quit his job to attend, she became the sole provider for the family. She worked hard and put a lot of time into her job. “I had put all my effort into my career and because of my husband’s sickness I hit a plateau.”

In 1999, after her husband had been working in the field of respiratory therapy for three months he became sick after treating a patient with hemophilus influenzae. Donice came home one evening and her husband was wrapped up in bed shaking and he wasn’t breathing well. After trying to get him to the hospital on her own with no success she called the ambulance and he was taken to Kaiser Hospital. At Kaiser he was given an antibiotic that he took orally, and after a few hours he was sent back home. In the middle of the night he was once again having trouble breathing, so she called the ambulance, which transported him to Washington Hospital in Fremont. During the ambulance ride from their Newark home to the hospital he suffered from a loss of oxygen to the brain, which severely affected his vision and motor skills, also causing him occasional seizures. Later, the cause was found to be acute epiglottitis, which is an infection caused by the bacteria hemophilus infuenzae. It causes inflammation of the throat and can lead to abrupt blockage of the airway and death.

She doesn’t go too many places these days because of her husband’s seizures and after he suffered from a stroke that paralyzed his left side he takes a lot of medications. But she says having gone through so much with her husband has prepared her for her own struggles.

In 2003 around Christmas time she discovered a lump in her breast while performing a self-exam in the shower. She sat on her bed and told her daughter she had found a lump in her breast. The doctor did a mammogram and located the mass in her breast, and then a biopsy was done to determine if it was cancerous. While she was at work one day she received a call from the doctor telling her that the lump was indeed cancer. It took her a while to gain her composure to finish out her day at work. “I thought…I don’t want this load,” she whispered.

She showed me her darkened fingers and fingernails, which were another result of the chemo. She has one more treatment of chemotherapy, which she does for three days and follows up with medication. It makes her feel sick and weak, but she says, “to be able to continue on and to make it despite…you have to thank God for the ability to go on.”

After finishing chemo she will undergo six weeks of radiation. She is grateful to have friends and other breast cancer survivors she can talk to for support. Professional counseling has also been instrumental in helping her cope.

“The new mountain is that now, right in the midst of my chemotherapy, my marriage is breaking up. I helped my husband through all this, but when I’m down, poof…”

She tries not to focus on negative things. She has poured her extra energy into writing poetry, singing with her church choir, and photography. Taking pictures is her secret passion, she showed me over a dozen pictures of brightly colored flowers in bloom and birds perched together. She confessed that she hoped to take a photography class soon so that she can learn more techniques.

“Once I get behind the lens everything is gone, every trial, every tribulation, every worry, every care.”

Showing My Independence from Cancer on Independence Day

Eight years ago, I was diagnosed with Lymphoma, a common form of lymph node cancer. Through chemotherapy I battled and battled. The battle always reminds me of the American Revolution… you know… king plagues dependency, dependency fights back, country wins over king, that kind of story… you all know how it went by now. On July 2, a doctor told me that I was cancer free. It was a surprising coincidence that it was a Friday morning, two days before the nation blew out their birthday candles. Two days before the 4th of July in 1999, I felt as though my own declaration of independence was written, courtesy of a doctor’s notepad, steadily written in Latin with one hand as the doctors scribbled the latest round of cancer treatment and pain medication in Latin on their prescription papers with the other hand.

The fourth of July is supposed to be America’s Independence Day. This year marks the 231st version of this special day in American History. Many people go on vacation, to picnics, to grill out at home, and many go to fireworks displays. I have chosen, as I usually always do, to spend a nice quiet day in my downtown Cincinnati apartment with my girlfriend of 15 months, Elizabeth. After that, I will probably head to Fountain Square for what I am told is going to be an awesome fireworks display. In the past I have gone to barbecues, festivals in my old home in St. Bernard, Ohio, and to various friends houses to have lunch or something.

Ironically, last year I did not partake in anything of that nature. On July 3, 2006, I was standing with Elizabeth, in Virginia Beach, directly in front of the most amazing view of the Atlantic Ocean in the entire East Coact. All of a sudden, we had to grab ahold of eachothers hands for dear life as a 4′ wave came and knocked us into the water (to this day I swear I still have seashells inside of my person). As I was sitting and sipping a drink later on on one of those grossly priced lounge chairs, the victim of near heat stroke (highs in the 100s that day), we began to plan the Monday that laid before us. We had spend a few days previous in North Carolina following around a football team that I worked with, and we were on our way home, but we figured why spoil a good week, especially since neither of us had to work until the 5th. We decided to go to up I-95 and hit Washington. Washington was where I went for vacation twice when I was in High School, and then again just days after my high school graduation. Elizabeth had been to many places with me in the latter half of 2006. Sadly, Washington was yet to be one of them, and I wanted to take her for a tour of the town.

Then it hit me. All of the previous times I walked from the Capitol Building to the base of the Washington Monument. Each trip had its own separate obstacles. My 1999 trip nearly ended prematurely, as I was flu ridden due to a chemo weakened immune system. In 2001, I accidentally went in reverse, a new soccer team (remember the Women’s United Soccer Association) was blocking my path, and I slipped and cut my leg at the top of the steps to the Capitol. The next year my dad was trying to see the Smithsonian museums instead of the monuments. I got my way, but he got his too… that was quite fair. And, normally, my trek would end at the base of the monument, but it ended at the Lincoln Memorial this time…. my Air Force Eurotraveler dad had caught his second wind. Much worse, 9/11 had just happened, and so the Capitol was inaccessable.

Another twist, after we finished the course, we ran into very angry protesters in front of my intended point of origin, the White House. The loudmouths, a league of muslims, angry at Bush for what they thought were anti-arab laws (we were fighting terror, not Islam, people!) were protesting state visit from one of our closest allies, then-Isreali Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. One final obstacle: they had arrested a man who was about a day away from dropping a chemical bomb on Washington (aka Jose Padilla’s dirty bomb). Facing even more obstacles, the 4th of July and the raised terror threat level that the news people keep reminding us about, I decided to introduce Elizabeth to this walk.

The walk began with a train ride to the transport hub of DC, Union Station, where I have caught many a train going out and around Washington. We had to leave the building immediately as there was nothing open. Then, we couldnt find the Capitol. When we finally did… hello there, obstacle #1… the roped off fencing and light blaring police cars filled with gun-drawn security and police.I thought we had to resort to trespassing and possible suspicion of terrorism to get around the building, but we did. Then came obstacle #2: I had forgotten that I saw an ad for a 4th of July concert by the National Symphony. The entire complex was further barricaded… so long jaunt from the stairs. We went around all of the security gates without any trouble. Surely, we didnt mean any harm… we just wanted to walk. Roadblock #3 came up when we came across the National Mall… home of the town’s party central, where everything was being set up for a grand party the next day.

When we had nothing but a 500′ tall white tower in our collective windshields, it took us a half an hour to walk the mile it took to get there. A smaller roadblock occured when we stopped to find water so Elizabeth can take her medicine, but it took mere minutes and we went through the gravel, the grass, and the concrete barriers protecting the Monument. We crossed through them, and a joy and rush came over me. Four trips to this city, four successful passes up and down the National Mall. I felt pretty proud of myself. I felt as though I was Neil Armstrong on the surface of the moon. I felt as though I was marching to voice my independence from my hardships, loudly and proudly, like it was when the King George finally accepted our status as a free and independent nation.

The only regret I had being I stopped. I was going to take her to the Lincoln Memorial as well, but it was pitch black and we retreated back to base. But, the job was done. I did not let cancer stop me, and this was just a mere example. This year, after my 8th year, I sit back and had a long think and I can only imagine. If I had not pulled off the defeat, i wouldnt be here right now. If the Americans had not fought their behinds off all those centuries ago, I would be going to Cincinnati Reds CRICKET games… and I cant stand cricket, so im glad we have this day… a day when not only can we celebrate freedom and democracy, we can celebrate our own lives, and have dreams of what is to come.