The C Word
(not that one, but you’re close)
Cancer. That word strikes fear into people. It’s so terrifying that we tend to refer to it as The Big C, when we have to talk of it at all, and discussions surrounding possible or actual tumours stay firmly labelled with the friendlier sounding ‘lump’. Those dark masses, whether they are found in ourselves or people we know, remind us of our mortality. We’re all terminal, it’s just a case of how long we have.
This rather gloomy and depressing intro has a point. After going through the trauma of losing my partner Sable’s Dad to cancer two years ago, we’ve now found out that his Nana has discovered a lump in her breast. She’s 77. Thankfully she’s aware of the importance of self checking which is how this lump came to be discovered, by her, during one of her routine self-checks. We hope it’s been discovered early enough to be eradicated completely – and she’s been told that if you’re going to get it, breast cancer is one of the ‘better’ ones to get. The lump isn’t attached to anything, and it’s small, possibly only 6 months old, so hopefully medication will get rid of it. There are surgery options further along the road in case it doesn’t.
Hope. We have to hold on to that hope that because it’s one of the better types of cancer to have, because it’s been found early, because there are meds they can try, because there are surgery options, she will come out the other side fine. It’s very difficult to lose every trace of fear when faced with that horrible word though, cancer. We know just what it can do. We’ve seen the fast deterioration of someone in their prime, the whittling down of hope and body and mind, the final weeks, days and hours. We’ve all literally stared death in the face – even while suffering the torment of new life, Blue, fresh and healthy and glowing, being such a stark and cruel contrast to the other end of life.
What if his Nana didn’t check herself regularly? This may have been a different story. We might have been here in 6 months, a year, two years – and it may have been too late. It may have spread to areas which can’t be removed, replaced or treated, and the only move is to palliative care in the terminal stages. My own grandmother died of cancer – which started in her ovaries – when she was 59. She’d been bleeding from her vagina even though she’d been through the menopause. After informing the doctors of her worries she was told it was nothing to worry about, wasn’t offered a scan and was put on sleeping tablets for a year. A year. I believe that year meant the difference between survival and her unfortunate and too early passing.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Well in this house we’re all very aware. Too aware. We don’t want to know as much about cancer as we do, thank you very much. We’d probably prefer to be the type of family which sits around the TV, tutting and exchanging remarks about how ‘awful’ cancer is when a documentary or a particularly moving fundraising advert is on the screen. But we wouldn’t know the damage it can do to a family – not really. Not in a personal, up close, ripping a family apart and causing deep lasting scars to everyone involved kind of way.
Are you aware?
Despite progress being made into cancer research thanks to the generous fundraising efforts of millions of people and numerous cancer charities, cancer – that big fat c word – is still a very real cause of death instead of just a horrible memory for humanity. We can’t pop to the doctor and eradicate cancer with a tablet on prescription – or even better, with a box of tablets we pick up with our grocery shop. Cancer is killing too many people – and it doesn’t care who it affects. The next person might be someone you actually know. Someone you’re related to.
The next person diagnosed with cancer might be you.
Are you going to catch it in time?
Check yourself, before it wrecks your health
More to the point, before it wrecks your life and the lives of people who love you.
Of course, not all types of cancer can be detected easily. But breast cancer often has a very easily detected symptom; the tumour can be felt in the breast tissue if you know what you’re looking for.
Things to watch out for:
Next month is Movember which is a national fundraising event in the UK in aid of prostate cancer research. It’s not just a bit of fun and games to see who can sport the most hilarious moustache and make the wittiest mo’ puns. These national and international days and events help to focus people’s minds on what’s important here – raising awareness of cancer and its different forms, as well as raising funds to research ways of making cancer curable.
Although you can’t stop it affecting you or anyone you know, what you can do is donate to the universal cause of eradicating cancer once and for all. Advances have been made in this area, even if we’re not quite at the finish line yet. Please consider donating to one of these cancer research charities – your funds make a very real difference: