My daughter took the photograph. This is the first summer after my sister died.
My sister in 2005, watching while our daughters play in the slip and slide.
For the Ragtag Daily Post: past.
This is my sister and me in early 2012. She died on March 29, 2018, from breast cancer. She was 49.
A patient told me about the “cancer pen” yesterday. I promptly pictured Star Trek’s Bones holding his device over patients, but no, this has to touch tissue…aka a piece of you…and do a chemical evaluation. It is to be used during surgery.
This is neat new technology… but. I can hear my sister saying, “Uh, so what about PREVENTION?”
This is technology to remove cancer after it’s already grown. And presumably metastasized. So this is stage II, stage III, stage IV cancer.
Cancer deaths are the second biggest cause of death in the US. Around 23% of yearly deaths and that does not count the people who survive cancer. At present we do not have many screening tests for cancer: pap smears continue to evolve, and now the recommendation is an HPV test or pap smear every five years AND we have a vaccine for the high risk HPV.
We can screen for colon cancer.
Mammograms for breast cancer.
The screen for prostate cancer sucks.
We can do skin checks.
The screen for lung cancer is now a low dose CT in a certain population that is high risk, that is, smokers. The recommendations have not addressed smoking marijuana.
Recommendations in the US are here: https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/.
There are lots of cancers that we don’t have screens for…. yet.
Proteomics is on the horizon. Genomics is looking at the genes, but it turns out that lots of cancers and infections and other illnesses have particular protein patterns. There is TONS of research in this area. Someday we may have protein tests: put a drop of blood or urine on it and say, “Hmmm. Looks like you have a positive test, probable lung cancer.”
That in turn creates problems. Initially we may be able to diagnose a cancer but not FIND it. Also not know how to treat it. The first big study trying to set up lung cancer screening had over 600 worrisome CT scans out of 1000. How many lung cancers did they find? Nine. And half of the nine had symptoms and could be found on chest xray by the time they did repeat CTs. Think of the anxiety of the 600 people who might have cancer and “We will repeat the CT scan in four months. Don’t worry too much.” Also there were complications from biopsying the lungs, like bleeding and pneumonia….
The best bet to avoid cancer is still living in a healthy way: don’t smoke anything, avoid addictive substances, eat good food, exercise, have friends and loved ones, work for yourself and your community, do some things you love…..
I took the photograph of my sister in 2011. She died of breast cancer in 2012. Her blog is here: butterfly soup.
For the Daily Prompt: strut. Struts support things: airplane wings, cars, things that move. How do we as a culture support people to live healthy lives?
There is more than one list of seven virtues. Courage, or bravery, goes back to Aristotle and Plato as one of the four cardinal virtues.
What is bravery to you? An extreme sport? A warrior?
My sister endured cancer treatment for 7 years, over 30 rounds of chemotherapy. She said, “People say I am brave, but they don’t understand. I don’t have a choice. It’s do the therapy or die.” It’s still brave, though, isn’t it.
The person who comes to my mind for bravery is a woman, a long time ago. She spoke Spanish and we had a translator. Her son had had rheumatic fever and they had gone to the pediatric cardiologist for the yearly visit. Her son had a damaged heart valve that was getting worse. He was somewhere between 9 and 12.
“The heart doctor says he needs surgery. He needs the valve replaced. But the heart doctor said he could die in surgery.” she said.
I read the notes and the heart ultrasound. “The heart valve is leaking more and more. If he doesn’t have the surgery it will damage his heart. He will be able to do less and less and then he will die. If he has the surgery, there is a small chance that he will die. But if he doesn’t, he will be able to grow and to run and to be active.”
She said, “I am so afraid.” But she returned to the pediatric cardiologist. And he got through the valve replacement surgery and did fine.
That is courage to me. The parents who take chances for their children: get into boats to escape war. Search for treatments. Fight for their home, their children, their loved ones. It is both men and women, mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, and people who have no blood relation to a child that they reach out to help. Adoption, volunteering in schools, supporting a student, supporting an organization that helps children grow and thrive.
A picture of my sister in 2005. She died in 2012 and today is her birthday. Her blog is at http://e2grundoon.blogspot.com/. We were at Lake Matinenda in Ontario, Canada.
When Beth is dying in Little Women, she says that it is like the tide going out….. sometimes I miss my sister so much. I am trying to make sense of the third stage, the stage after mother. With my daughter in college, I am living alone for the first time in 28 years. And I don’t have my sister or my mother or my grandmother to accompany me.
I took the title from one of my sister’s essays: An early promotion to crone. Here: http://e2grundoon.blogspot.com/2007/08/early-promotion-to-crone.html
I want to discuss my sister’s essay with her …. I can’t, except in dreams.
mother, maiden and crone
small child in my heart
baby cuddled warm
safe and loved
small girl dancing
sing run shout
woman seen and heard
woman silenced dressed undressed
woman learning searching writing
woman held and loved
woman gravid bearing carrying
woman feeding raising nurturing
crone quiet watching
white haired dismissed old
unseen unknown ignored
laughing playing dancing
sing run shout