Thursday, September 17, 2015

There is No “Good Cancer”

A friend recently tumbled out the words that I remember being stuck in my own throat two plus years ago, “I have cancer.” We traded some swear words about the whole affair and then I did what I’ve done consistently for the last couple of years, I set about researching her disease and her treatment options. Imagine my surprise when I discovered her cancer being described as “the GOOD cancer.”

Full stop. A good cancer?

That would be an oxymoronic (emphasis on the moronic) statement if I ever heard one.

Cancer sucks. Regardless of the type of cells choosing to go rogue.

Cancer is the antithesis of ‘good.’ Beyond the immediate surgical, chemical or radiological treatments, cancer means always looking over your shoulder. Cancer means overthinking every ache, pain and bruise. Cancer means adding the “mean survival rate” years to your current age and subtracting the years you’ve been cancer free. Just to check again whether or not the probability exists that you will see your children graduate from high school, choose a life partner, have children, grow old with your spouse.

Cancer is a thief. It takes pieces of your body and it takes your peace of mind.

Mere weeks before my friend was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, another friend was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Opposite ends of the body yet very common in the shock, frustration, anger and periods of soul-crushing fear.

In the cancer community, we are all more similar than different.

September is National Ovarian Cancer Month. Ironically September is also Thyroid Cancer Awareness month – I Googled it. And, for as steeped in the world of oncology as I am, when my daughter asked me what color the solidarity ribbon was, I had to Google that too. In other words, for as in touch as I am in the cancer community, I am ignorant regarding the ins and outs of thyroid cancer awareness.

But I am absolutely aware that there is no such thing as a “GOOD cancer.”

There is, however, good research. And we need more of it.
Please take six minutes to watch the American Academy of Cancer Research 2015 report video showing what good research can mean to individuals and their families:

Cancer treatments can only be improved with adequate funding of research. We need to move well beyond the ‘awareness only’ phase and onto the ‘focused action’ phase.

All cancers suck. But focused research that extends treatment options and quality of life is GOOD.