I am honored to present Tina Case as my guest blogger today. Tina is a childhood friend of mine, who I reconnected with a little over a year ago when I started this blog. As you may know, the inspiration for starting this blog was my passion for cooking for people with cancer. Although the content on my site has broadened over time to include foods I make for my son with food allergies, I have a special place in my heart for those fighting cancer.
November is National Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, and Tina has graciously offered to write a post about this horrible disease. Her own brother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this past summer, and I just learned of his passing this week. Please read this beautiful post, written from the heart, spoken from a personal heart breaking experience.
You can find Tina at Parent Grapevine, where she has written a 10-part series on her personal experience dealing with her husband’s prostate cancer, and more. I encourage you to read her blog, whether you’re a caregiver of a loved one with cancer, or know someone with cancer. Her series opened my eyes and gave me a new appreciation of what the cancer patient and family endure, and how to better support a friend with cancer.
One Day, When Cancer Enters Your Life
By Tina Case
November is National Pancreatic Cancer Month. Make a Difference Today.
Throughout a typical day we often go about our lives on autopilot. Whether we are parents who work from the office, or are single and work from home, our life becomes a set of routines. We get up, go to work, go grocery shopping, act as chauffer, and get dinner on the table. Once everyone is cleaned up and ready for bed, the routine starts all over again.
But then, One Day, something happens. You get the news that someone you love dearly is ill, gravely ill.
One Day in late 2009 I was in the midst of planning a huge surprise 50th birthday party for my husband. I planned it 3 months before his actual birthday to catch him off guard. To be honest, I was on the verge of not having a major party for him because of the cost, time and effort. And because he was beginning to drop frequent hints about it to me, he loves a good party.
Thankfully a dear friend convinced me that these major milestones should be celebrated; that you never look back to regret those big celebrations. And so I proceeded. One Day in December 2009 I pulled off the best surprise celebration ever. My husband was stunned. And it turned out my friend was right. It was just 1 month later during my husband’s routine annual physical that his doctor detected a suspicious lump.
My husband went in for a biopsy a few days later. I will never forget that One Day in January 2010 when my husband and I sat in the doctor’s office and got the results of his biopsy. It was the day we learned he had prostate cancer stage 2A. The cancer was in over 50% of his prostate.
One Day we’re celebrating his life, and then One Day we’re in the fight of his life.
This past summer my family learned that my oldest brother has pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is one of the rarest of all cancers and also one of the most devastating. As the youngest of 4 siblings I have always looked up to and adored my big brother. My brother is a world renowned doctor who has helped people his whole life. His life is a masterpiece in helping others and he is one of the kindest and gentlest doctors there is. I know because through a Caring Bridge website our family created I am learning so much about my humble brother directly through his patients and colleagues.
One Day my brother is a doctor, the next day he’s a patient.
One Day, when something like this happens to you, whether it is a heart attack, a stroke, cancer or a car accident, you will never, ever be the same. Your mind, your emotions – your soul, is shaken and you realize that how you lived your life before will never be quite the same. You will still have routines and you will still go about your day on autopilot. But you will have a different outlook with a new sense of purpose. You will see and feel things in a very different way.
One Day something in me changed. It was the day my family was affected by cancer. One Day while typing away I realized I could do something with my writing. My writing had a new sense of purpose.
This year a portion of my freelance writing earnings will go towards pancreatic research. It is time this devastating cancer is wiped from the face of the earth. One Day I hope to look back and see that I have made a small difference. One Day I hope to raise awareness and help raise money that goes toward developing a cure for pancreatic cancer. So that others will never have to walk this heartbreaking and gut wrenching path again.
We can all make a difference if we took just One Day to reflect on all that we have. And make a difference with something we do, today. We are all in this together. Join me, One Day, and work with a purpose that is close to your heart. So that we can all look forward to the years ahead.
One Day, in May 2010, we received word that my husband was cancer-free. Grievously that day will never happen for my brother. By the time the cancer was detected it was already stage IV. Pancreatic cancer is one of the rarest but sadly the least curable of cancers. It is often called the silent cancer because there are rarely any outward symptoms until it has spread. Roughly 95 percent of pancreatic cancers are classified as adenocarcinoma tumors, with a five-year survival of only 6%. Steve Jobs had an even rarer form of pancreatic cancer called pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer, which produces islet cell or neuroendocrine tumors. That form is less aggressive and he survived 6 years after his original diagnosis. Through my brother’s difficult journey over the past four months I have learned a greater deal about the disease and its nearly always fatal outcome (it only has a 1% survival rate). Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States and continues to be the least funded among the top five. Join me in recognizing November as Worldwide Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. To find an event in your area click here.
Remember. One Day is all it takes to make a difference. One Day.
Tina Case says
Thank you so much for posting this article Jeanette. It’s amazing how paths cross after years of being disconnected. If anyone has questions about pancreatic cancer, please look at http://www.pancan.org, it is a great resource.
Tina – thank you so much for writing this beautiful post in honor of your brother and husband. You are an amazing person, and my thoughts and sympathies go out to you and your family on the passing of your brother. So glad we reconnected after all these years. I know you will do great things with your writing, and make a difference in the fight against cancer.
This is beautiful and moving. Thank you so much, Tina, for sharing your story, and Jeanette, for bringing Tina to us.
Tina Case says
Carolyn, thank you for your comment. Going through cancer with a husband and brother is so gut wrenching. I only wish my brother’s experience had an outcome like my husband’s. Pancreatic cancer requires more funding and more visibility for which I am hoping to help raise awareness. Thank you so much, Tina Case
Paul Frank says
My sympathies to your family on their loss. Thank you for sharing this lucid expression of your personal experience. May your husband stay cancer-free.
Tina Case says
hello Paul, thank you very much for your note. When cancer affects someone you love so dearly, words barely touch the surface. The pain and suffering run so deep it is unfathomable. my brother was not as fortunate as my husband, pancreatic cancer is so underfunded and even the richest man on earth, Steve Jobs, could not find a cure. i feel if there’s anything I can do to raise awareness and encourage people to get regular check ups and through early detection, we might be able to spare more heartache and save more lives. Thank you again, Tina Case (http://www.parentgrapevine.com)
Shirley @ gfe says
Thanks to you, Jeanette, and to you, Tina, for sharing this poignant post. Everyone I know has been affected by cancer in some form. I think a large part of the cure is in prevention with the best foods, non-inflammatory and/or antioxidant foods. There is much to learn still on this front though. My mother is a breast cancer survivor and my dad is suffering from a recurrence of prostate cancer. We have lost several other members of our family to cancer, as I know most have. Cancer is a brutal beast. Tina, my heart goes out to you in the loss of your brother and celebrates with you in the health of your husband. That is such a gorgeous photo of you all. The happiness in all of you jumps out! 🙂
Thursday we lost a family friend to leukemia at the age of 49. She’d been complaining of severe fatigue and not feeling right. A trip to the ER determined she had leukemia. While there, she went into a coma. Six hours later she was gone. It’s a shocking loss to all. The only message there is for folks to seek treatment when their body tells them something is wrong. Don’t ignore the warning signs; don’t forge on.
There has been some association of pancreactic cancer with celiac disease/gluten intolerance, but there is much research to be done in this area. I’m gluten intolerant and a gluten intolerance/celiac support group leader so I’m more aware of this association than most. I have so many support group members who have a strong history of pancreactic cancer in their families.
Thanks again for sharing your story, Tina, and thank you, Jeanette, for teaching eating healthy food as a way to prevent cancer and nourish those with cancer.
Tina Case says
hi Shirley, thank you SO much for your note. I have not heard about the possibility of gluten intolerance and pancreatic cancer. It was so brutal to see my brother go through his ravaging cancer. The kicker is, he is a doctor himself and his entire career has been devoted to helping others less fortunate, with debilitating nervous disorders and congenital defects. He was on the verge of some major breakthroughs and had so much more to offer. The chance connection I had to meet up with Jeanette after years of having lost touch has been tremendous. I use a lot of her recipes and especially love the soups, we’re a big soup family. I made some for my brother when he was ill.
Thank you again for your note, and to Jeanette for having my guest post on her blog.
Tina, thank you so much for sharing with us. My heart just breaks for your brother and your family. Thank you for all that you’re doing.
Tina Case says
Julie, I greatly appreciate your note. It has been one of the most emotional times of my life. It has been a poignant time but one graceful spark that came out of all of this was my brother’s ability to tell everyone he loved what they meant to him. My daughter was able to write him numerous times and was his shining pen-pal and brought a smile to his face every time they shared an exchange of notes. It’s a horrible cancer, so debilitating. His pain is gone now, and I hope he is in heaven having a great talk with Steve Jobs 😀
The One Day by which all other days are marked. Thank you for sharing your story with us Tina. We have so much to learn from each other – xo
Tina Case says
Hello Kelly – thank you for your note. It means a great deal to me. We do have a lot to learn from each other and going through this with others helps me get through each day. Another friend, who died of melanoma at the age of 45 (and we adopted his Black Labrador Retriever), said it so eloquently. He told us, “The many gifts in life are illuminated when battling cancer.” I have found that to be so true in my experience. Thank you so much again, Tina
Jeanette, thank you so much for stopping by my blog and leaving that sweet comment, which led me to your lovely blog! Secondly, thank you for introducing us to Tina.
Tina, thank you for sharing your story. You are an amazing woman. My heart goes out to everyone who has been effected by cancer and you and your family are in my thoughts.
Tina Case says
Dear Faith, thank you for your note. It means a lot to me that you read the post and can help spread the word.
Just happened upon this post today.. Thank you for sharing Your story Tina, I wish you the best and hope that your husband stays cancer free.
I got a my mri result on the phone One day while I was planning my husbands surprise 28th birthday and was just about to click the send button on the evite. i sat on my office desk for a minute after the call and hit send. then called him. the party was still a surprise though there was an added other surprise too.