It Really Is ‘OUR Cancer’

That old feeling came back with a wallop the other day.  I’m talking about the day, when all of us made the leap from living a normal life to finding out ‘our’ cancers would take the ‘normal’ away forever. 

I was working on a project up at Hopkins, that will hopefully spread the word about their impressive Pancreas Cancer Multi-Disciplinary Clinic.  A gathering of the best doctors, surgeons, nurses and scientists who see more pancreas cancer than any place else in the country.  Patients come to this one day, comprehensive assessment of their condition  and leave with some sort of a plan on how to manage their disease. 

The patients and their family members are full of hope,  as they sit in the exam rooms waiting for the doctors who have news of their latest scans and test results. The beauty of this clinic is that all the specialists weigh-in at once. The patient isn’t running from doctor to doctor, just the opposite, the doctors  have come to the patient.  But that doesn’t mean the anticipation is less stressful.  For the most part, the news isn’t good.  Pancreas cancer is a bad cancer. 

There were a couple of patients who left the clinic that day learning that they either didn’t have cancer or what they did have could be surgically treated, always a hopeful sign, when dealing with  pancreas cancer. 

But it was the others, that took me back to that exam room years ago….As the doctor found the words, so difficult to say….the cancer has spread or the disease was terminal. 

No one is ever prepared to hear this news.  The world is turned upside down in an instant.  A loved one’s life is threatened. 

These patients were given the best suggestions for managing their care too, but from my experience, most of that went unrecorded in their heads, because their hearts are crumbling from the devastating news.

Maybe because I’ve been where they are now, I want them to know, how terribly sad I feel for each of them.  In many ways, their cancer, is “MY Cancer”….is “OUR Cancer.”

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