Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cancer.. how much does it suck ( let me count the ways )

I received some news, that took the wind right out of my sails. It turned my thoughts from home project goals, recording, camping and sasquatch investigations, into a more complex, agonizing, and puzzling mystery... called cancer. No, not me... but a recurrence in my son.
It is a heart breaker, to be declared cancer free, after almost 9 years of periodic scans and tests that showed... absolutely nothing. He was just 15 when diagnosed with synovial cell sarcoma (a rare, cancer of the soft tissue.. often on limbs and the body extremities), having a fist sized tumor grow on his right thy... while my ex wife and myself were at the threshold of a divorce, in 2002. The tumor had not matastasized (or did it ?) and it was successfully removed, after chemo and radiation treatments, and 10 hours of surgery.. that left his leg a mess, and put him out of commission for a year. After more chemo, much rehab, an outstandingly positive attitude, and the desire to get back to a normal teens seemed it was finally all behind him.
What exactly causes these left over cells, to lay dormant for 9 years, and then suddenly multiply and grow again ? Well... if you don't know, don't feel bad... because neither do the oncologists and treatment specialists. They thought they had gotten it all. That form of cancer, has a high probability of recurrence, but usually within the five years after the surgery and post chemo treatments.
A much smaller (but deep rooted) tumor is now growing next to his scar tissue, from the 2002 surgery. The choices for him, are not great. He can have the team of medical personnel, take the same approach to the problem, as was done in 2002 (chemo, radiation, surgery, more chemo, rehab) . It didn't end his problem then, and it is always possible, it could reoccur again. It could also end up spreading elsewhere, in the future (who knows ?...they sure don't). Fortunately, it looks to be contained to the leg again, from the results of his PET scan.. which is the only good news, so far. Amputation of the right leg, is another option. Even after this, it is not any guarantee, that the cursed growth could not reemerge elsewhere in his body. It would, lessen the needed radiation and horrificly strong chemo treatments required, if saving the leg was his choice. My son doesn't seem to shudder at all, at the thoughts of a prothstetic leg.. as long as the cancer is gone from his body and life. Still, no guarantees this would even do it. Better odds, but it's really all a gamble.
So, that is the choice a 24 year old has to make, and not a whole lot of time, to think it over. All I can do... is support his choice, and stand behind him, and help him in any way, that I can. I am no huge president Obama fan...but one thing I'll say, is that his health bill came at the right time for my son. He has already graduated from college. Like so many now in this current depressed economy, there are no decent job opportunities in his field of study, and his part time jobs do not offer any health insurance. Now... just imagine facing this personal crisis, without any health insurance. Fortunately, he is still covered on mine, until age 26. I thank God for this.
The hardest thing about this... is not knowing exactly what to do next, but also knowing that something has to be done, without delay. So Please, if you read this.. say a prayer for him.
Somehow I know he will get through this OK, like the last time. It won't be easy for him, or anyone involved that cares about him.. but he has.. an upbeat, "let's get it over with, so I can move on with my goals in life" ... attitude, that I am totally impressed and uplifted with. I can't say I would be the same, facing this kind of thing (for the second time) at his age, or even at my age. He is my hero, now. When I grow up... I want to be just like him.