Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Black Death of My Century

The Black Death (Black Plague) was one of the deadliest pandemics of all time. It killed about 75 million people through out central Asia and Europe from 1340 to 1400.

By contrast cancer has killed almost 8 million in 2007. It is the leading cause of death worldwide. I don't know anybody that hasn't had their life touched by cancer. Everybody knows someone or is related to someone that has battled some form of this wretched disease.

My introduction came in the form of one of my buddies (Don) at the age of 14 (around then, it has been awhile). He started with stomach pains. After the diagnosis, he began all manners of treatments available. He went to specialist. He fought valiantly, with the treatment being as bad (or worse) than the disease. He lost his battle right around his 16th birthday.

Memories are a peculiar thing. For me the dates are fuzzy, but some details could have happened today and they wouldn't be any clearer. I can still hear my mother's voice the morning she woke me up to tell me that Don had died. I can remember the songs at the funeral. Our class sent a spray of roses. I can see that rose just as clearly as I can see this keyboard.

A short time later, I lost my grandfather. I remember his battle as well. His cancer spread eventually to the brain. The last time I visited him in the hospital, I made a joke about the cafeteria feeding him okra (he didn't like it, at all). He smiled as I walked out the door.

Now I'm faced with loosing another friend. A lady (former co-worker, her husband is one of my bosses) full of faith and furry. Saying she is spunky is an understatement. Her fight began with colon cancer. She vowed to give it everything she had.......and cancer took it and more. Our whole department called her a few weeks ago and sang "Happy Birthday" over the speaker phone. It instantly changed her, lifted her up. But they have done all they can do and have resorted to making her comfortable.

There are good stories as well. Cancer beaten, people in remission. But it takes something away from you. One of my friends (another co-worker), his wife took on breast cancer and won. But she lives in fear of every checkup. Just last year, something didn't look right. It was down right devastating (It was all good in the end).

So what are we to do. You can see the link to the Fat Cyclist on the left. Elden Nelson originally started his blog to embarrass himself into loosing weight. It morphed into a comedic blog about cycling. Now Elden is living my worst nightmare. His wife originally had breast cancer that metastasized, eventually landing in her bones, lungs, and brain. They've fought and come to the end. Now they manage the symptoms and hope for some good days. Elden is organizing the largest LiveStrong team ever. Check out his blog (it'll rip your heart out) and check out Live Strong as well. It's time for a cure.

No comments: