Sunday, August 30, 2009

Cancer then and now

Back at my first diagnosis, I did everything I could to learn about my cancer. I bought a book that is about 1000 pages long, of which six were dedicated to thyroid cancer (and that included all the latest and greatest information). There was no internet. Information came from doctors. I tried to go to the library (and look up books in the card catalog) and all I got were medical tomes that required a dictionary and a medical degree to decipher. I have a friend who had ovarian cancer about the same time and we discussed this once. There were support groups for old people. If you were young and had cancer, you were just supposed to deal with it.

At my second diagnosis, I hopped on the internet and found out all I wanted (and more) on line. I found support groups full of people who were my age. I found retreats and events full of people living with cancer and they weren't all ancient. There is something for all types of cancer. People talk about cancer now. Its not as feared as it was.

There still are people who disappear at a cancer diagnosis. Or others that just don't get it. "Oh, you have cancer? Chemotherapy? And you're bald? You wouldn't believe what a bad hair day I'm having. I just can't get it to look right..." (Yes, this happened to me.)

I decided since I handled my first diagnosis very badly, I would take charge at my second one and find support, learn about my disease and be an educated patient. As a result, although the cancer roller coaster is no easier the second time around, I have lots of friends I can talk to about it. I have a circle of online support full of people I have never met, and probably won't ever meet. I can complain, and cry, and swear, about this damn disease and feel good that I get support that I do.

I just did a little research, the average age at a thyroid cancer diagnosis is 47 and breast cancer diagnosis is 61, and any cancer overall is 67. I must be precocious or something. The chances of getting cancer in one's life time are one in three (now isn't that depressing - but if I've had it twice, someone else should have the odds of 1 in six...). The odds of getting thyroid cancer before the age of 20 is 0.042% and odds of getting breast cancer before the age of 50 is 0.876%... Combine the two of them and you can call me unusual. All I know is that I really hate it when people say 'you're too young to get cancer/back issues, etc.' I'm not too young. I'm me and it happened so shut up.

1 comment:

genetic cancer testing said...

The current study analyzed data from the 2000 and 2005 National Health Interview Surveys, both of which included supplementary questions assessing cancer control. More than 35,000 women participating in those surveys did not have a personal history of breast or ovarian cancer, and around 1 percent of them were determined to be at high risk because a mother, sister, or daughter had such a tumor. Among these high-risk women, about half were aware that genetic testing was available, but only 10 percent had discussed it with a physician, less than 5 percent had been advised to have the test, and only 2 percent had done so.

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