We belong to a world that is busy 'sharing.'  Sometimes we over-share: TMI (too much information)

There's 'Facebook' and 'Twitter' and a million more ways the Internet takes our thoughts and words and spreads them worldwide.

Video, from every angle we can imagine gives us details of lives being lived around the globe.

And it's not just good news....there's plenty of bad news too.

So why is it so hard to tell our friends and family that we have been diagnosed with cancer?

After all this time, cancer still carries a stigma that stops us from sharing this news.

Experts tell us it's important to let our inner circle know what we're facing because that's where our support comes from and cancer patients and care givers need support.

It tells me that cancer still has a grip on us from square one: from diagnosis it plays that 'control' card.

It's time to shuffle the deck.

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Dear Bonnie,

WE are thinking of you and hope your grief is lessened just a little every day.

There are no words that will make this loss easier to live with...a young, beautiful life of a loved one lost.

You have many who are lifting you from this community.  So many of us have experienced this kind of loss, so we surround you with our support.

The breakthroughs you mention, may not have been there for your son, but please know this, what was learned from your son's cancer struggle will help the next patients facing cancer.

He was a warrior.

Hopefully he is at peace.

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I asked Leroy's oncologist if Leroy was in his cancer fight today, would new treatments and specifically, immunotherapy, result in a much different outcome?  Would he have lived longer?  Would those colon cancer cells cut and run at the site of these new drugs?

"Possibly" was the answer.

His colon cancer certainly had a genetic component tied to it.  His grandmother and mother both had colon cancer.  Many of the immunotherapies that are proving successful in treatment are being linked to familial genetics.  There's no way to say for sure, but his chances of surviving longer now versus then are pretty strong.

To say discoveries and treatments for so many cancers are already light years ahead of where they were just 7 years ago when Leroy lost his fight.

I can't even count the times, we asked about tumor sequencing.  "We're just not there yet."  That was the answer we'd get.  I presume "they" were there but it wasn't a common procedure like it is today.  Sequencing is one of the biggest breakthroughs in cancer treatment.  THEN it was hardly done and the cost was off the charts and insurance companies would laugh when you'd ask for coverage of the procedure.  Now, even Medicare covers some sequencing.  That's how common place it's become, but it isn't the 'cure' for all cancers.

Doctors can't look at the results of a mass that's been sequenced, see the cancer, run to the pharmacy and get the pill that matches that cancer.  No....that isn't what's happening, not by a long shot.

Some immunotherapies are miracle workers.  Some patients respond so completely that tumors seem to melt away, while other patients with the same cancer, have little or no response.

Science, you see, really never seems to be exact, does it?

But it's a million times better today than it was back in Leroy's day.  I'm grateful for that because it means it's a million times better for care givers and family members too.  They don't really need to understand the science.  They just want something to work.

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"I wasn't sure you'd make it."

That's what his doctor said AFTER the check-up and AFTER the results of the tests were in and all was good.  Ten years ago, my neighbor was in cancer world, struggling to get through treatment and fighting to live.

Today, he's healthy, N-E-D and from the look of the smile on his wife's face, cancer world is clearly in his rear view mirror.

Ten years of healthy check-ups.  Ten years of wondering each year, if that would change.  Not this year.

His wife stopped smiling long enough to exhale from holding her breath through the guarded optimism that all would be fine and now on to the celebration!

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There was an extra ripple in the Pacific ocean over the weekend.

Friends were in Maui, staying at the same hotel Leroy and I used to stay year after year.  They asked where exactly I had scattered his ashes 7 years ago and I directed them to the beach where we had spent so many sunsets.  It was a favorite spot where we would watch the sun slowly slide behind the island of Molokai and as it did, it would paint the sky orange and yellow and gold.  Sunsets in Maui are something to behold.

We would bring a sunset picnic of string cheese, fruit, Leroy's favorite onion dip and Maui chips.  A bottle of champagne or a bottle of wine would complete the 'meal.'

As night would begin to hug Maui, we'd wrap ourselves in beach towels so we wouldn't miss one second of those sunsets.

That pretty much explains the reasoning behind choosing that location for his final resting place.

And that brings me to this past weekend.  My friends were thoughtful enough to find that stretch of beach: go out into the water, flowers in hand.  With a prayer in their hearts and on their lips they sent words of comfort and friendship to Leroy.  The flowers floated onto the Pacific creating ripples along their way.

Peaceful, beautiful ripples in the Pacific.

 

 

 

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Former President Jimmy Carter stepped into the circle most of us who visit this blog have been in for some time.

He spoke calmly, clearly and with out anger as he described his upcoming cancer battle.  He has metastatic melanoma.  A mass was removed from his liver earlier this month.  The cancer has now spread to the brain.  He began radiation treatment today.

He met the media today for almost an hour describing how he thought the diagnosis meant he had only a few weeks to live and even then, he was at peace with that too.  He said he has a deep faith in God and  "I'm very grateful for, and I was pleasantly surprised that I didn't go into an attitude of despair or anger or anything like that.  I was just completely at ease."

My friend Diana had that same attitude when she got the news of her esophageal cancer a few months ago.  She told me she was ready for the fight of her life.  Her diagnosis was the same as Jimmy Carter's: metastatic disease.  She went through surgery, harsh chemotherapy, emergency hospital visits.  Her loving husband was her wall.  They would take short walks around the neighborhood, sometimes it was so hard just to get out of bed, but she wouldn't give-in to her disease.

Diana died just a few days ago.  She was 67.

She and President Carter are what cancer hates the most.  It hates those who fight.   It hates those who hold on to hope, even when the odds say there is no hope.

It is with GRACE and UNDERSTANDING these two victims faced their challenge.

Mr. Carter's is just beginning, Diana's has ended: both deserve our prayers.

 

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When my Mom was diagnosed with cancer, she was told she probably had about a year to live.

She had been at the bedside of many friends and family over the years who were suffering from cancer and cancer treatment and she'd seen how harsh some of those treatments had been.

So when her doctor told her about her terminal disease, she never hesitated when she looked the doctor in the eye and said "No thanks, I'm not having chemotherapy."

This was many years ago and long before immunotherapies and epigenetics and mapping tumors became everyday lingo in cancer world.  In fact, there weren't many options for her, even on the chemo shelf.

So my sister drove her home and the rest of her life began.

She never doubted her decision.  She lived every day to the  fullest.  She saw friends, shopped, got her hair done, talked on the phone.  She lived her life for a full year before the cancer started to impact her normal.  When it did, it didn't take too long before she needed help to get around, but when we called hospice, she was truly at peace and she lived two days after her 86th birthday.

Her heart, and she had a strong, wonderful heart, guided her head that day, when she made the choice: treatment or no treatment.  I must admit, I protested her decision at first, but when I saw how she really never let her cancer get in the way of living that final year, I was in awe of my Mom.

I have a friend who is weighing that same decision now.  Of course he has many more options to pick from: the cancer medicine cabinet is full of new discoveries.  But it still comes down to the heart or the head.  Turning left or turning right.

I'm convinced there is no right or wrong choice.

 

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WWLD

Over the years since Leroy's been gone, I've heard from so many former colleagues of his about how he impacted their lives.

There were the young, aspiring journalists who wrote about how his guidance helped to shape their careers.

I'd get emails and even hand written notes from former "Nightline" staffers who had gone on to new and interesting jobs, who would tell me that when tough decisions came up at work, they'd sit at their desks and whisper to themselves, "What would Leroy do?"

This has gone on for 7 years now and it happened again with the anniversary of his death over the weekend.

So many wonderful messages of memories and adventures shared once again.

One former producer from the NL staff wrote that she would like to think he would be so proud of her success.  She said she daily faces the "WWLD" question in her business dealings and I guess he answers her with some sort of guidance.

I'd like to think that his blog, posted on this site, continues to help those facing daily cancer challenges too.  The blog is an evergreen of living and dying with this disease that has taken so many of our loved ones over the years.

On Saturday, one of Leroy's closest friends, who is now facing metastatic disease himself, sent me a note saying he carries Leroy in his head and in his heart.

My answer was to listen carefully and follow his lead, especially now.  Reading "MY Cancer" will help.

Leroy's legacy lives on...just ask those who ask daily "What would Leroy do?"  It works for me.

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His words..

Do something optimistic today.

Do something that says "I believe that I have a future'

Start reading a really long book: maybe the entire Harry Potter series.  Plant seeds that you can nurture over time.

Start to learn a new language, take up a musical instrument, write that novel you've been talking about since college....

Put off something that you should do today until tomorrow.  Whatever seems right to you.

Leroy's words: MY CANCER, September 13, 2006

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20150814_115254_resizedAUGUST 15, 2008....

REMEMBERING THE 'BIG GUY'

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