A few weeks ago my son Steven was diagnosed with cancer, again.
And not just one cancer, but two.
Learning of his diagnosis took my breath away.
I immediately went into a familiar yet dreaded emotional state where all energy gets directed to meeting the needs of my son. I went on high alert mentally and physically. Needless to say, those initial days brought feelings of dread and fear to the forefront on my mind, again.
What type of treatments will be required? Will he be hospitalized?
How will the treatments impact my son’s health and well-being?
How does Steven feel about having to go back into treatment?
What can I do to help my young adult son?
Questions and concerns were whirling around in my head – not again.
My dear son.
And then a friend asked me…
“Don’t you ever ask WHY?”
I don’t ask why.”
Because who would I blame?
I do not blame God.
I do not blame the doctors or researchers.
I do not blame the politicians (although I sure would like to).
I do not blame myself for being a bad person in another life.
I do blame genetics.
I do blame the environment.
I do blame the air we breath.
I do blame the food we eat.
How little control we have over cancer.
It’s so frustrating, frightening and at times overwhelming.
But finding blame? Well, that would just send me into a mindless frenzy of ranting and raving.
Rants and ravings just waste energy.
How in the world can we prevent cancer?
Cancer prevention is a relevant subject for older adults, but children? I don’t think so.
Perhaps a healthy diet may help certain types of childhood illnesses like diabetes and obesity, but cancer?
Over the years my energy has been focused (and still is) on physical and emotional wellness. Eating healthy meals, selecting pesticide free food whenever possible, getting exercise, and meditation are useful and often effective ways of dealing with the stress of cancer treatment. But do they prevent cancer?
Not so much.
Sadly, most of our planet is polluted and suffers from about 100 years of pesticides and toxins being dumped into mother earth, streams, and the atmosphere above.
There are isolated cases through the USA where hot zones (a significant number of cancers in one geographic area) are detected and the environment is the cause of the disease. For example, cancers have been linked to ground water and soil contamination. However, it is an arduous task to prove cause and effect. In other words, to prove a specific toxin causes a specific cancer is a very challenging task for researchers and public health officials. Detecting cause has taken place, but not each time a high incidence of cancers are identified in a small geographic area.
Trying to locate the causes of cancers is very, very difficult.
Only through education and thoughtful research can information be gathered to create positive change in eradicating cancer.
Specifically, we need more immunotherapy research (*1), genetic therapy research (*2), survivorship, education and research (*3), alternative and complementary therapy research (*4).
Through research we will learn how to treat and cure. Oncology research requires a lifetime of dedication; therefore, we need to encourage young researchers to stay the course in discovering cures. Also, it goes without saying that funding dollars need to continue to flow from public and private sources.
Through education, cancer survivors will learn to attend follow up medical appointments and become aware of the potential secondary effects like PTSD, fatigue, pain and future cancers. AYA Cancer Survivors are a challenging group for service providers – not only because of their cancers, but for the psychosocial aspects that could impede long term survivorship, such as: avoiding medical appointments, not taking medicine, and risk-taking behaviors like smoking and excessive drinking.
There is no one to blame. Cancer has embedded itself in our world and it needs to be destroyed.
I hate everything about you.
You have altered the lives of our friends.
You have broken the hearts of lovers.
You have caused parents to bury their children and be forever grief stricken.
My view of the world has been changed forever.
You hurt my son.
How dare you.
Angie (aka Steven’s mom)