One is my sister, Ann, who is battling late stage breast cancer, and who is my prime honoree for my upcoming 60 mile walk. She had surgery last week: pleurodesis, which adheres the pleura to remove the pleural space around the lungs and prevent the buildup of fluid around the lungs. The operation was a failure, and she was back in the hospital a week later to have two liters of fluid removed and a drain put in. The damage to her lungs from the metastasized tumors appears to be accelerating, because she was getting a liter of fluid removed every few weeks and now it is two liters in a week. She has fought so hard, and it is heartbreaking to know that the end could be coming. When I walk the Komen 3-Day in September, she will be with me every step of the 60 miles. I’d walk 6,000 miles if it would give her one month of good health to just enjoy a normal life. Does God make deals like that?
The other is my friend Ed, who is a Team in Training buddy and a 20+ year leukemia survivor. He is also a six year melanoma survivor, but it has come back with a vengeance. Ed has been battling active melanoma for the past year and a half, and has gone through hell in the last few months with his left leg. It remains swollen and immobile, with lots of awful lesions. He can finally walk slowly upstairs and at least get a shower, and is grateful for that. But now, tests are showing suspicious areas in his lungs, and he is going to need a biopsy. Melanoma spreading to the lungs, if that is what it is, would be a terrible thing. He is always brave and upbeat, but I know it is not easy to always put on a brave face.
I wonder about cancer. Why do so many of us, me included, survive it with relatively little hardship, and others like Ann and Ed go through such hellish experiences? All the billions of dollars and millions of person years spent fighting these diseases, and yet, here we are!