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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cancer Is Not a Joke

When I got the phone call that early August morning confirming my biopsy was positive and that I had Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, my whole world went numb, and I sat in silence for the rest of the morning. What now?  Surgery?  A mastectomy?  Chemotherapy? Radiation?  The questions were endless, and my mind couldn't quite grasp what was going on, even though prior to, I already has a suspicion it was going to be positive.  Was I going to die was the first and foremost at the very top question.  Of course I still had to undergo tests to find out what stage I was.  Bone scan, PET CT, Muga to see if my heart was going to be strong enough to handle the rough road I was in store for.  The phone call informing me I was Stage IV, of which there is no cure, only treatments to better quality of life and try to prolong the inevitable.  It felt like I had been punched in the solar plexis.  The air immediately left my lungs and couldn't breath. My whole world was shattered in a matter of three weeks, the worst possible news one could ever get in their life.  My immediate thought was 'I am going to die'.  How soon was the question that followed.  Would there be a great deal of pain, and let me assure you, 1-10 for pain levels just don't factor in when it comes to identifying the level of pain sometimes associated with Cancer.  That was August 27, 2009.

Since then I have been undergoing chemotherapy to somewhat aggressively treat the cancer. I actually had a Doctor look me straight in the eyes and tell me I was going to die from this disease.  Thanks for the vote of confidence Doc... seriously. I have lost all my hair, twice.  My nice long long eye lashes that made my eyes look like saucers have all disappeared. I have now what I call raccoon eyes, dark and sullen looking.  Concealer can only do so much.  I look at the gal in the glass looking back and wonder who are you, I don't know you.  I've never seen you before.  I want the old Leilani back.  And I want her back now!!  

I ended up going into the hospital for a week in December for Pneumonia.  That brought on a onslaught of 'what if's', with my family being so far away, and unable to get to me where I live now, burried in mountains and ten foot walls of snow ( I have come to the painful conclusion I am no snow bunny!) But I felt alone and scared. 

So far this year I have lost two chemo buddies from treatment and found out today a fellow blogger passed quietly last month.  You see that empty chair and can't help but wonder am I next?  I have radically changed my diet, which really didn't need that much revamping to begin with, but I have added some cancer fighting foods to help my body fight this better.  At one time they had me on more pills I thought was humanly impossible for one person to actually keep track of and take on a regular basis.  Penicillin move over, Xanax is the new wonder drug.  Keeps me on a level plain, and the panic attacks to a minimum.  And trust me, when dealing with Stage IV Metastatic Breast cancer, there are panic attacks, especially when you hear someone lost the fight.

Here's some facts about cancer JUST with women, not to mention all the other devistating cancers out there taking lives on a DAILY basis.

Every year, there are more than 41,100 cases of uterine cancer, and more than 7,400 deaths from the disease.

*  There are two types of cervical cancer, squamous cell cancer of the cervix (SCC) and adenocarcinoma of the cervix, 
    with SCC representing about 90% of cases. Every year, more than 11,070 new cases of invasive cervical cancer 
    and 3,870 women will die from the disease. 

*  Every year, there are an estimated 22,430 new cases of ovarian cancer and more than 15,280 deaths from the disease.   Ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other form of cancer of the female reproductive system. Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cause of death from cancer among women in the United States.

*  Each year there are over 182,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer, and more than 40,000 women die from breast cancer every year. Excluding skin cancers, breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women, and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women. There are more than 2.5 million breast cancer survivors living in the United States. A woman’s chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime is 1 out of 8.  Men you are capable of being diagnosed with breast cancer as well.  Despite common misconceptions, more than 2,000 men are also diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Of those, approximately 450 will die from the disease.

That is why when I read that Conan O'Brien made a callous and uncaring remark about being asked to host the EIF's Womens Cancer Research Foundation 'An Unforgettable Evening'  and I quote " Hilarious host Conan O'Brien said, "Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson asked me to host this event and I thought wow, cancer, the jokes just write themselves." Unbelievable that someone can be so uncaring, and his picture was taken with Martin Short, who  accepted the Courage Award on behalf of his wife Nancy, who tragically passed away from ovarian cancer in August.   He lost his mother I believe when he was 12 to cancer as well.  

I'm in an rage about his carlessness and foolish statement.  I am writing anybody and everybody I can think of from Oprah to Ellen, Natalie Cole, the National Ambassador, trying to get the point that cancer is not funny, it's not a joke, does not write it's on jokes, it takes lives.  Horribly and tragically, leaving behind a void in the loved ones lives.  I'm trying to get the point to Hollywood that there's a line in the sand when it comes to what's funny to joke about and what's not.  Cancer clearly falls under the ladder.  It is no joking matter.  

Of all the funding that is raised to fight Breast Cancer only 3% goes to Metastatic Breast Cancer, and mainly for quality of life, not trying to find a cure for us... yet clearly 30% of us are Stage IV.  Of which there is no cure.  Our diagnosis is a death sentence.  For some it comes early on, one day seemingly healthy, the next day... gone.  

Have you been affected by cancer, of any type?  Do you know someone who lost the fight or is currently fighting, or even a survivor?  Or know someone who knows someone?  Nine out of ten of you will probably answer yes... I am asking you to join me in my fight to get this message out.  Write letters to the stations, to sponsors, the celebrities asking for their help in getting this message out, the message that there is a line in the sand when it comes to what's funny to joke about and what's not. Cancer, of any type, is most definitely not.  Now some of who are dealing with it sometimes use humor to help us fight this battle, but that is OUR choice .  Let's not let Conan get away with making uncaring statements like that or any other comedian who thinks cancer is a joking matter.  It does not write it's own jokes, it kills.  

This post is dedicated to Daria... may you rest in peace my dear and be free from the pain and suffering. You will be missed.