Many years ago I was diagnosed with melanoma on my right arm. As I was in my hospital bed with several IV’s in my left, I was told about the imminent surgery. The main emphasis was how far it had spread.
The surgeon told me I may wake up with a cut in my arm or I may lose my right forearm and possibly even to my shoulder. For a right-handed person, this was not good news. The night before entering the hospital I finished three drawings that I was not happy with but I was able to make them better by drawing all night. I knew it might be the last time I could use the arm.
As the drugs were working, I wondered what kind of world would I experience when I would regain consciousness. Turmoil is a word that would describe how I felt. As I was opening my eyes in recovery, the surgeon told me I was a very lucky person. The melanoma had not spread even though the appearance of it showed it had metastasized. I had a very big Z cut where they had operated. I was very thankful I still had my right arm and my life.
Our second go around with cancer was with my wife. She was diagnosed with breast cancer. She opted for a lumpectomy and then radiation treatments. All went well, but when we talked to the oncologist, my wife said she didn’t want to take chemo. He had a great sigh of relief on his face. He then explained her heart was not strong enough for chemo. Well, that problem solved.
About four years later my wife had become quite sick and was having serious pain in her midsection. After many tests her doctor decided to remove her gallbladder. During this procedure, he saw tumors on her liver and took a biopsy which was definitely cancerous.
We told him we already had an oncologist and he contacted him immediately while we were still in his office. She needed more tests to see if her heart would be able to handle chemo and her cardiologist did them very fast. They were completed and came back okay. She started her chemo in about three weeks from her diagnosis after a port was inserted, CAT and PET scans taken.
She has undergone different treatments over the last two years. She has outlived the average time of life predictions given her and she has more good days than bad. She has completed 23 sessions of chemo, which is a lot. She has had four surgical procedures.
Right now there are no miracle cures for her type of cancer. But all along this journey we have done a lot of praying and have worked hard to keep our spirits up and to be positive. We are fighting this cancer in every way we know how through chemo, diet, laughter, love and prayer. With our five big fighters, we have the strength of our hope for a special future.
Yes, the word cancer is a very scary thing but there are many cancers that are curable. There are many different kinds of cancer becoming a reality for many families. I didn’t realize how many people were being treated for it and affecting all ages.
Yes, even with cancer, we are living longer but the cost of the drugs and treatments are very high and could ultimately bankrupt our entire medical system. I don’t know the answer but I do know we need to find the different causes of this disease and let everyone know what they are. Accurately inform us, the public, with good information and how to avoid these cancer promoting things.
There needs to be a better, less expensive way of treating this disease. Right now they cut it out through surgery and burn it out through radiation or kill it with chemo but there are other helpers. We know that certain food products help cancer grow. We also know some foods that can slow cancer down.
Maybe there is no magic pill that will eliminate cancer. Maybe it will a combination of many things. Things we may not want to do but may have to in order to have a long and productive life.
I personally believe that cancer is a physical and spiritual battle and must be dealt with on both fronts actively and continuously. Our battle is to do our best day by day. God’s job is to select those He wants to bring home.
Harry Croghan is an artist, photographer, writer and teacher. He can be reached at 740-852-4906 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.