Baring it All! - Going Bald for Cancer Research UK

What would you give to see me lose all my long hair?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

27 Days

(My son's at home ill (again!) today, so I've got time to do a 'proper' post...)

Julia - 6th form at UCC

I thought it was 28 Days to go... so , just as well I put that countdown bar in the title!!!

Something one of the students said has been niggling at me.

One lunchtime, some girls were building model cells, and while they were busy at that, I was busy sorting out the next lesson in the same lab. We talked for a while about what I was doing and why. Then we went onto the subject of one of the girl's mother's friends (the aquaintance being closer than the length of the description of aquaintance here!) having cancer.

She said she'd been told by her mother that the cancer was "eating away at her friend", which I was sad to hear. There's too many people in the world with this horrible disease. And each person has a life-story to tell. Each one is a person. Not a statistic. Not a memory the moment they discover they have cancer (I know a couple of people who've found that the reaction of others is to immediately count you as 'already gone'!!). Not simply the epitome of the illness. A real life person, who still has a lot of living to do!

Anyway, back to what I was saying. I've been dwelling on the image of cancer 'eating away' at the body. It's a strange expression, in that cancer is a growth of cells, not a reduction... Seems to me that (and I've heard people use the expression several times before) it is opposite to what happens. I suppose, what could be meant is that sometimes a person loses their appetite, especially if they feel ill with the treatment, or with pain, or sometimes with the drugs used to supress pain. But what it sounds like they mean is that their loss of weight is attributed directly to the cancer... (I don't believe it usually is).

The use of the expression made me wonder afterwards whether the student actually knew what the illness was, or whether the description was apt because she'd seen her mother' s friend losing weight.

Thing is, it's not always like that. My friend, Julia, has been carefully watching what she eats - removing anything that's not organic; watching there's not too much soya (containing chemicals which mimic the hormone oestrogen (I think), and which is therefore counterproductive when you've got a hormone-loving type cancer); reducing fats and sugars; cutting out alcohol. She's excercised - daily walks and some yoga. And most of the time she's energetic and humerous and enjoys just being alive!

You really wouldn't know she lives with cancer! In fact, as I've often said to her, most of the time she looks healthier than me! :-)

Our teenage pledge to live life to the full...

It's only really recently that those little blobs of cancer cells, that broke off and got carried round the body before she was treated the first time, started to grow again. For the last few years she's had it well under control. And (I heard from her yesterday) the treatment seems to be working - she can breathe clearer again, whatever was making her eye squinty has cleared off, and the pain's gone. So, the chemo seems to be doing its job (Great News!) and she sounded as cheerful as ever! (As predicted, she went bald after the third Chemo, so that's the only obvious sign she's still going through treatment. Well, along with being totally zonked for half the week....)

Point is - though she has the illness, and though she needs treatment every now and then - she carries on her life. It didn't simply 'stop' when she found she had cancer. Most of the time she eats well, stays healthy. She is living. Not dying. And when I hear expressions like the one above, I feel that its already 'striking someone off the list'. It's putting them in the category 'not much longer'. This shouldn't be. Each new day, new hope may be found. Each new day is a day to be glad to be alive (for any of us!). And each new day, one might hope a new treatment can be found to combat the cause or the effects of cancer.

No one knows how long they've got. Not you. Not me. Not anyone. Many surprise themselves and others, by being 'miracles' who beat the illness, or who live way past an expected time. In fact, my friend tells me they no longer tell you how long you supposedly have to live, because people tend to go by that, and their subconscious works on keeping to it!!

I know of someone, a boyfriend of a friend, who had lung cancer, and was told he had maximum 6 months to live. Well, he did the Bristol Diet thing (treating the whole person, not just the body), and when he went for one of his check ups they proclaimed him 'all clear'! Years later, this is still so...

So, it is possible.

That doesn't mean a person should be under pressure to perform miracles. That's one thing Julia has said - having heard of other people's miraculous cures, everyone looks to you to do the same. And then you feel guilty for not succeeding!! On top of all the worries about the illness itself. That's crazy! But, trying out new things, regardless of how well they work, may open a person to being happier about themselves, or teach them to relax, or say 'no'.

Who knows where learning a new idea will take you....

Bristol Cancer Centre - a view by Saga Health

Bristol Cancer Help Centre - contact

Photo-shoot for our design business 'Machu Picchu' about 20 years ago
- taking a few risks...
(not advisable - I broke the heels off my new boots! )


  • At November 23, 2006, Blogger Mother of Invention said…

    Some people say cancer eats away at a person meaning that the bad cancer cells eats up the good healthy cells and takes over.

    You're right about soy, it has phyto-estrogens.

    Is Julia a candidate for Herceptin, a faitrly new miracle drug from the US for people who have protein positive Breast Cancer?

  • At November 24, 2006, Blogger Annelisa said…

    I think Julia's at a different point than Herceptin would help. She has something more focused on the type of cancer she has... for the life of me, I can't remember what the drug is (even though she says it often enough! :-( )

  • At November 24, 2006, Blogger Mother of Invention said…

    Do you mean a further point? My sister-in-law got it and it basically has saved her life. She had surgery (lumpectomy), then chemo, then radiation. hers was one of the most aggressive cancers.

  • At November 25, 2006, Blogger Annelisa said…

    Hello again MOI.

    Julia had the double masectomy a few years ago, followed by chemo. Hers was also an agressive cancer, and they must've got most of it.

    If I remember rightly (I'm not going to check with her right now...) I think when I asked her about herceptin (which was big in the news at the time because someone had just one a battle to be given it) she said that the drug apparently wasn't right for her type of cancer, and wouldn't be as effective as the one(s) she's taking.

    Unfortunetely, when Julia had first found lumps, she was feeding her little baby, and because of body changes didn't notice them straight away. The first ones were found to be benign cysts, so when she found more she wasn't so worried. These weren't benign, and it'd already spread by the time they tested and scanned.

    As I said, she then was put on a waiting list for the operation to remove the cancerous areas (into the lymph nodes - a sign that it should be done quickly) and would've had to wait months(!!) if she couldn't have gone private.

    Now that the cancer has come back in every part of her body, it is treated differently than in the beginning. There's more of a 'control' element to it (whereas in the beginning it's a 'trying to eliminate' it) I believe she had a change of drug, but I can't remember for sure...

  • At November 25, 2006, Blogger Mother of Invention said…

    Thanks for that. I am praying so hard for your friend, Julia.
    She is one special girl and she has one very extraordinary friend in you. (But I know you both must know and feel that!)

  • At November 25, 2006, Blogger Annelisa said…

    Thanks MOI!

    That's good of you to say. Yes, we do have a close friendship...

    Although I don't pray, in the 'to God' sense, I do believe in positive thoughts helping, so I will send positive thoughts to your sisters, and hope that all will remain well with them. Hey, I could throw in a good one or two for you! :-D


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