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Cancer still sucks – but not as much

Almost two years ago, I thought my mother was a goner. She was diagnosed with her third primary cancer after a pulmonary embolism that almost killed her. The year following her diagnosis was even worse than the year after my father died. Complications from the cancer and side effects from the study drug she’s taking landed her in the hospital two times. I was teaching full-time during both medical crises, which magnified my stress, aggravating my depression and stimulating tinnitus, ringing in the ears that people with hearing loss often experience (like Beethoven). The stress was a contributing factor in my decision to quit my job and become self-employed.

While my mom’s cancer will never go into remission – she has a form of cancer that can’t be treated into oblivion – she has done remarkably well on the study drug she’s taking under the care of a doctor at the Clinical Center for Targeted Therapy at MD Anderson. She has been on the drug for about 80 weeks, well beyond the average patient in the study, and the tumors are the same size or minimally smaller than they were in the first CT scans they did in March of 2010 before she became part of the study. Her results were included in a paper presented at a conference in Germany, and her doctor called my mom a success story, telling us that people like my mom is the reason she’s a cancer doc.

My mom recently underwent genetic testing which revealed that her cancer is not inherited, good news for my sister, me, and my niece. I guess she just has really bad luck when it comes to cancer (none of the three cancers she’s had are related, and the current cancer is quite rare and difficult to treat.)

So, at 80 weeks and counting, cancer still sucks, but we’re kicking its ass anyway.

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