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.