Cancer for Dummies

ImageWe have been at this cancer thing for almost a year now.  As we have traveled along the twisty path, I have formulated a sort of Cancer for Dummies book in my head.  Perhaps a more apt name would be Cancer for the Previously Unaffected.  Ideas usually pop in to my brain when I am alone in the car, and I spend the remainder of the drive pondering them.  There is the list of “Things I Wish People Wouldn’t Do or Say” and the other list of “Things I am SO Glad that People Did or Said”.  When I think back on my own actions, I have probably done or said all of the things on the first list and done or said precious few on the second.  Now I know.  Perspective is a powerful thing.

My least favorite question when people find out about Dave’s cancer is “Did they catch it early?”  Because the thing is they didn’t.  Once this question is floating out there, I begin to feel uncomfortable because I know I am about to make someone else uncomfortable.  So I give a brief response along the lines of “Unfortunately they didn’t.  It had already metastasized to his liver when they found it.”  Then there is an awkward silence followed by me feeling the need to explain about risk factors and routine screening and why Dave hadn’t been screened earlier.  Suddenly I am the living blathering wikipedia of colon cancer information encouraging you to get a colonoscopy when you mention your family history.  And I mean it.  Have you had one?  You should.



9 thoughts on “Cancer for Dummies

  1. Robyn—thank you for being an advocate. Drew’s dad was also diagnosed “late” and he fought colon cancer for three years before it took him. Drew has yet to get a colonoscopy and I don’t understand it. I just had him read your post and he promised me he would “look into it.” I continue to pray for you, Dave and your family. You should write the book. You could save lives. And, you could continue to help people understand…a little anyway. Love you—Tracey

  2. tracey,

    with a family history, drew absolutely has to go and get one done. it is a few hours of his life that could save his life. as the nurse said to dave when he went in “there are those who have and those who will”. it is something that we all have to do at some point, but with a family history definitely sooner than later. our kids will start screening when they are 36. dave’s siblings had them done and will go back every five years or so. i think that i have nagged three people so far to get one done and i would love it if drew were the fourth. thanks for the prayers and support, tracey. love you too, friend and certainly hope you are on the mend.

    • I have had 3 already. I started when I was 30 and they found 3 polyps that very well could have been something far worse if I had started 10 years later. I was on the “every 3 year plan” until this past year when I finally came up “clean” – and now I’m on the every 5 year plan. My Dad’s mom died of colon cancer when he was 17, so we really have no way of knowing when it started. Mom & Dad both started their colonoscopy routine at 50 and thank God that wasn’t too late for them – they both had polyps. My GI even suggested we look in to getting tested for Lynch Syndrome, which is a genetic predisposition for getting cancer at an earlier age. Eventually I’ll do this, if only for my girls informational purpose. Best of luck Tracey, in getting Drew to do this – it gets so much easier after the first time. Love to you all! -Lori

  3. What a crazy journey cancer has sent you on this year. But I do think it is these unbelievably difficult and seemingly insurmountable times, that bring you together as a family and make the best times even better. I am sure you do have more than enough material to write an invaluable book.

  4. Great idea for a book Robyn!…hard not to be affected in some way at some moment. I’ve got too many friends even here in Bombay that have contracted cancer…the good news is that it seems that treatment is so much better these days than it ever was before.

    Sending prayers and positive vibes out to Dave and you!

    • thanks, sunder. i am amazed at how many people are touched by cancer in some way (themselves, a friend or relative). it is mind boggling. we so appreciate the prayers and positive support and we are definitely lucky for the amazing care and treatment that dave has been receiving.

  5. Robyn,

    Kath just sent me the link to your blog. I like your writing style and how you approach the tough subject. I hesitated opening the link thinking it was related to her crazy ride at work. Then I remembered a conversation we had recently about the Tremaine’s 50th wedding anniversary and it hit me . So you have me thinking I better go get my screening soon. Here I have all this coverage I rarely every use and I make way to many excuses. I have said a pray for David and my niece every night since there diagnosis. Yes medicine has come a long way but I still put stock in good old fashion Faith too. So in the words of the rocker Bon Jovi – Keep the Faith. Miss you guys at the get togethers and wondering does David hum Van Halen songs during his treatments?


  6. gary, i am so glad that kathy shared the link. i will be even happier to hear that you have gone and had the screening done!! (so, no time like the present, right?) thank you for the nightly prayers. i do believe that they work. between the absolutely amazing care dave has been getting and the friends and family we have praying or sending us positive support, i believe that healing will happen. i hope that your niece is back in good health soon. and i have to believe that van halen gets played at least some of the time that dave is sitting in his recliner getting his infusion! he is looking forward to strutting his stuff at kris’s wedding celebration.

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