Friday, April 22, 2016


I wanted to write about something personal. This year several friends and a neighbor have been diagnosed with cancer; two of those diagnosed are in the same family. Tonight, I want to focus on one in particular though. My neighbor was diagnosed with melanoma cancer in the lymph nodes over a year ago.

The doctors said the cancer is early enough that they don't want to do chemo treatments, but advanced enough that  they were't sure if alternatives would work. She started treatments, some sort of chemo shot, over a year ago. A couple months into the treatment, the nurses finally realized that they were giving her near toxic levels of the shot. She would feel extremely sick after taking them for 2 days following. They also didn't give her anything to cope with the pain of over-medication. If she would have cut herself, she very well could have bled to death from something as small as a paper cut. Needless to say, there were issues with the recommended treatments. Through all this, she somehow maintained a full-time job.

After realizing they had over-medicated , the doctors reassessed the dosage. She had to take a break until her white blood cells rose to normal levels. At that point, she had to restart the time table for taking the treatment to a full year. The treatments ended in August of 2015. Months passed until they would take another test. At a doctor visit in February of 2016, the scan showed something concerning, a growth of sorts in the same area. A surgery was scheduled, performed and fingers were crossed. Yesterday, she found out that the cancer has returned. She had a blood test on February 15th. Apparently she has a condition that, instead of her body killing the cancer cells, it feeds them (sounds scary). She chose to be put on a chemo pill. After a short stint, she contracted pneumonia. She just stopped taking the pill. She took more tests on Monday of this past week. I haven't heard what the results were yet. She wants to stop treatment though, which breaks my heart.

My neighbor is a "tell it like it is" woman. When I say that, I mean she'll say anything if it enters her mind. She also has a tough personality on the outside and a soft interior (that she isn't keen to show unless absolutely necessary). She's very nice (when we aren't jabbing each other with sarcastic comments) and thoughtful. Amidst all of this chaos, she even planned my wife a baby shower!

She has a 7-year old boy and a 15-year old boy. She hasn't told the youngest about the cancer diagnosis. I sat here night after night thinking of ideas to do for her. She doesn't want to do celebrations and parties (I believe) until they say "you are cancer free!". I came up with throwing her a potluck dinner with the neighborhood on May 20th or 21st. I had t-shirts made up. The goal was to collect donations from the neighbors and give her a gift certificate to a restaurant. That quickly fell through when I got only 2 donations, unfortunately. I'm still going to get her a gift certificate though. I also got her an adult coloring book, colored pencils, and shirts for her family.

Are you going through something similar? Do you have any suggestions or ideas? I'd love to hear them!
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