Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Praying -- or whatever you call it

My next door neighbor found out sometime in middle November that she has Stage 3 cancer of the pancreas. She has an inoperable tumor the size of an egg in the center of her pancreas that the doctors say had been growing for the last year and a half.

We had dinner with her and her husband last night, and I felt like I was an inquisitor. But, I wanted to know if there was this kind of cancer in her family. It just seemed to me such a rare thing to happen to someone so seemingly healthy and so young.

What she said was very interesting.

She had none of the risk triggers for pancreatic cancer – no family history of cancer of the pancreas, she doesn't eat fatty food, she is not overweight, she has no diabetes, she's not an Ashkenazy Jew, and she was/is an avid exerciser. But, there was one thing that links her to this malady – she has a history of ovarian cancer in her family that is linked to breast cancer, which is one of the risks for getting cancer of the pancreas. Now that seems a little far fetched and circular to me, but how can I argue with the results? Here is a woman less than 60 years old who has it.

Fortunately her doctor has a very good reputation. Fortunately she hasn’t lost her talkativeness or her sense of humor -- even though she's lost some weight and is beginning to lose her hair. Keeping a sense of humor is a big plus in recovering from any illness. Also she has a good positive attitude -- one of the things that kept my brother going for 20 years after his cancer diagnosis.

I just feel so sad for her. And, the best I can think of doing for her right now is pray for her recovery, at least pray the best I can – I’ve never been known to be good at praying to anyone or anything. And, even though I know all too well that hoping is not a plan, I hope (and pray) that all of the things she’s going through to get well will work. Imagine getting chemotherapy doses dripping directly into your body 24/7 for 7 days in a row over and over again! No one, absolutely no one, deserves to get so sick. She is still young. She has a family and two beautiful granddaughters. She should have a lot of years to go.

You go, girl! Get well and hurry up about it!!!

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