Thursday, December 10, 2009

“Who Do You Know With Leukemia?”

The question came as a bit of a surprise. I was helping to orient a new employee this morning, and we were at my desk signing some paperwork. I left for a minute to get some information, and when I returned, he asked me that question. I guess I looked puzzled for a minute, and he pointed to my Leukemia and Lymphoma Society mug on my desk.

“Actually, I know a number of people who have survived leukemia and other blood cancers,” I said. “That includes myself. I survived lymphoma seven years ago.”

“You’re kidding!” he exclaimed. “My mother died from lymphoma!” I expressed my sympathy, and we chatted a bit about it.

His mother was 52 when she died about seven or eight years ago, just a couple of years older than I was at the time of my diagnosis. She had been ill for a while, and they just kept thinking it was the flu, or something like that. They finally figured it out in May of that year, and by July, she was dead. I guess she never really had a chance.

I reflected again on my amazing good fortune. Why would I not only survive, but return to full health, while this woman died? It is just the luck of the draw, I guess. I had something that could be treated, she did not. I could survive the chemo, barely at times it seemed, but survive it I did all the same. She either could not survive the treatment or the disease, one or the other. Two months is a quick period of time for someone to die after diagnosis.

I thought of all of the things I would have missed had I died that July. My diagnosis was also in May – maybe even the same May. It is a pretty long list of amazing things that I have gotten to experience in my life since that time, and I would have hated to have missed any of them. I was not ready to die at that point, and actually am not at this point either, should anyone ask.

This brief conversation was one more example of how many people are affected by blood cancers. And it was one more example of the loss that those left behind feel as a result. It is easy for people to hear about people surviving cancer and assume that survival is a given, and that the cancer problem has a solution. Sadly, that is far from true.


Iffiz Articles said...

getting your word out there regarding leukemia is an excellent idea

TNTcoach Ken said...

We're hearing about more well-known individuals being diagnosed with the disease.........

Elayne said...

That story is very much the same as we experienced with both my brother-in -law ( Leukemia) and father-in-law ( brain cancer). Both died shortly after diagnosis. Jim was only 38, diagnosed in Jan. Died in April. You really never know.

Racn4acure said...

Yep, you never know. 38 is so, so young! And you never know how many people that you see every day are impacted by cancer either directly or indirectly.