Cancer and fear 

My father was a seemingly healthy man, lived most of his life everyday free of disease, no chronic illnesses, no pain, not even High blood pressure, or diabetes, or high cholesterol. He never smoked, and enjoyed alcohol like every other guy. He was at least 40 pounds overweight but what guy over 55 is not? He ate what he wanted and did not really have a huge exercise routine, but loved to take walks. Hated going to doctors and pretty much never did. Not completely unusual but kind of frowned upon. Then out of nowhere he came down with pain in his foot. “It’s just foot pain” I thought. “You probably hurt yourself when you tripped and fell. Just put some ice on it and rest.” So he did. Except the following day he now had back pain. “Ok, so maybe you have osteoarthritis and that’s why you are having all these problems.” I said. The pain became unbearable until we said fuck it. We are going to the Emergency department (ED). MRI was ordered right away and who would have thank it? Lots and lots of cancer metastasis into his back and liver, said the ED doc as he read the MRI results to us. By definition, he essentially had stage 4 of whatever cancer this was. My jaw dropped. Whatever this thing was, it had been brewing for years, at least a decade and a half.

My dad was going to need an emergency surgery to save his spine and neurological function, which he underwent. We found out later that this was colon cancer that had metastasized to various organs including his lumbar spine and liver. He had stage 4 colon adenocarcinoma was going to need chemo fast. But he never could recover from that surgery. He died 3 months after that ED visit. A rapid deterioration of liver function did him in.

When it comes to getting cancer, it seems like Russian roulette these days. Statistics are terrible, 1 in 3 women will get it, and 1 in 2 men will get it. Prevention is unclear because nearly everything in this world is a carcinogen. And even when you think you are healthy, something may be brewing inside you and you have no idea.

So…., how does one avoid cancer, how does one know when to screen for cancer and how do you deal with it when you get it. These questions run through everyone’s mind at one point or another. The guidelines are of minimal help and vague. Vegetarians and smokers alike have faced the same fate. Is it the food we eat, the water we drink, the cell phones we use, the microwaves, the very air we breathe? The truth is, it probably doesn’t matter. This is a Russian roulette. If you are alive, you are playing. So just enjoy it.

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