Did you know that there are nearly 12 million people in the United States with cancer or who have been afflicted by cancer but overcome the disease?
Chances are you have a friend or a family member who has battled against one of the 100 plus different types of cancer.
Recently, I have been reminded just how easy it is to take life for granted. I've been following the story of a man fighting colon cancer in Tucson, AZ.
His name is Sean and he is in his 30's. He is a husband and father of four. He and his family still have countless memories to create together, but now a disease threatens to change all that.
I can only imagine myself - my family - having to make sense of cancer. Life is frighteningly fragile.
Tonight we put a small donation in an envelope to send to the Medical Fund for Sean. He is currently in the ICU. You can read more about his story here.
We know Sean and his family from when we lived in Tucson so I have a real face when I think of him. Whenever I think of him, I pray.
If you or a loved one has ever battled cancer, what were the most helpful things people did to encourage you and care for you?
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My brother beat Stage 3 colon cancer at age 28. All of his doctors credit his optimism as being a HUGE factor in overcoming this. He didn't see it as "Oh my gosh, my life is over." He saw it as, "Let's get this over with so I can get on with my life."
One time when I was visiting him, I shared with him that my husband's family were all praying for him. He said, "Prayers, we'll take 'em. Whatever you got, whatever you believe in, we'll take 'em. We can use all the positive thoughts coming our way that people care to give."
I don't think I've answered your question yet, tho :). I think the number one thing my brother had going for him, besides his positive attitude, was his support system. My family, his then-girlfriend/now-wife's family, their amazing friends...everyone played a part in making sure that he got what he needed. Whether it be a ride to a procedure, childcare (his girlfriend/wife has 2 kids), bringing over a meal, a phone call to let him know they were thinking of him, sitting with him after chemo or surgery...there was nothing too small and nothing they weren't grateful for.
And the best possible ending to this story? He's now married to the wonderful woman who was there for him through everything and they have an awesome daughter who will be 3. Tomorrow! And another on the way :D.
My Dad is a two-time cancer survivor, although the 2nd time was really not a big deal because the doctor caught the cancer so early, did surgery, removed his prostate and that was the end of that. (I still remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when he called to tell me he had cancer though!) The first time was a big deal.
I was 14, Daddy had been sick for about a year with an incompetent doctor and an insurance plan that wouldn't let him see anyone else for a second opinion, without a referral, something the incompetent doctor wasn't willing to give. My oldest little sister was 4, the next one was a year old and my baby sister would be born, a month early, the day before he went in for surgery. At the new year Daddy changed insurance plans during the annual opportunity to do that and had his first appointment with his new doctor towards the end of January. The massive tumor was surgically removed on February 21st, less than a month later. He had chemo and radiation and was declared cancer-free and released to go back to work by September. Daddy's tumor was so large that the local medical school had a seminar about it. The tumor had grown into his spine and the little bone that goes across your pelvic and had to be scraped out of both places so during the surgery they were not able to completely remove it. Fortunately the cancer never did metastasize so it didn't get into his lymph nodes and spread like it could have.
I don't remember much about that time aside from fear and worry. I do know however, that my Aunt who we lived near at the time, insisted that our whole family move in with them right before the surgery was scheduled so we stayed there for 3 or 4 months and she and her husband helped Mom take care of Daddy, the newborn and us other two kids too. That was a huge blessing. Daddy was off work, on disability, for so long that money was pretty tight and we were on WIC and Food Stamps temporarily - that was a blessing too, I also remember neighbors and church family bringing us groceries, anonymously leaving sacks of vegetables and non-perishable food items on the porch. I think my grandparents sent some money too. That year at Christmas our church adopted our family and we received gifts - something I've never forgotten because my parents had already told me there wouldn't be much at Christmas since we were still recovering financially from Daddy's long time on disability.
We never had much, we were definitely in the lower middle class as a family of 6 surviving on one income, but we always had enough. However, as an adult, I'm thankful for that stretch of time in my childhood when we were really "poor" because it's given me a compassion and understanding of what those who live in that "classification" go through. I find it easy to give to people going through a hard time, because I know how much of a blessing, help and encouragement that can be to someone in a tough situation. I find it pretty easy to be content with what I have in a home, a vehicle, "toys" because I remember what it was like to not have a choice. Not to say that we are "wealthy" now, because we're not, but we're better off than my parents ever were while I was growing up. And... I could say a lot more, but I'm way off topic now so I'll stop! :)
My father-in-law died of colon cancer over 10 years ago when my husband and I were just newly married. What I remember best was everyone's compassion so that's what I'd recommend. I know people want to give a tangible something, which is wonderful, but being compassionate and kind is just as needed.
Toward the end of his journey, we were still working our regular jobs and doing what we could to help my husband's mom and dad. I was under so much stress that I couldn't remember conversations I had at work - literally 10 minutes after they took place. I have a really good memory but the stress of everything was consuming my mind. Luckily I had wonderful co-workers who would just hug me and acknowledge I had a lot on my mind.
If you have a sincere compassion and kindness to their situation, I'm sure tangible ways to help will present themselves.
Sean pasted away today. He was 38. Please pray for his family.
Oh man, this story hit so close to home it brought me to tears.
I have an uncle, named Sean. With 4 little ones at home (ages 6 to 12). Who has colon cancer that is very advanced.
I was so sorry to read that Sean in Tucson has passed, I will be lifting up his family in my prayers!