Archive | November 15, 2012

The Vampires got me … and the American Cancer Society

The Vampires got me. I volunteered for a long term cancer study in honour of my brother, Cam and my sister-in –love, Beth and my two cousins who are both cancer survivors. Everyone in my family usually gets at least some form of skin cancer in their lifetime, so far so good for me.

I had to fill out a huge long questionnaire on line and one this morning at the study and then they took four big tubes of blood. I suppose I should be glad it’s a lot less than when I volunteered to be a bone marrow donor back in the 80’s. I thought they would drain me that time.

My little brother had what was called astrocytoma sarcoma when he first got it. 15 years later the name is multiform glioblastoma. The same kind of cancer that killed Senator Kennedy. Cam survived cancer free they had told him for 15 years before it came back. When it came back they didn’t know how to treat him because there were no other long term survivors. If he hadn’t been in a clinical trial the first time they wouldn’t even have had his medical treatment records because it was over 7 years.

When he first got sick he couldn’t have surgery at all because it was too close to too many vital brain structures. When it came back the gamma knife had been invented and that helped for awhile but repeated use caused severe brain swelling and with an astrocytoma you never get all the cancer because the most virulent part is the fingers it sends out to grow and after surgery all that is left is the aggressive parts which does not help the survival rate. So it kept growing and eventually he seized to death.

Beth was not related to me but she was my brother’s partner’s little sister and she died last year of a cancer called Ewing’s sarcoma. This is usually a cancer of teenage boys and usually in the leg bones. Beth was not a teenage boy and hers was in her spine. This cancer has a 70% five year survival rate but not for Beth.

So because I want cancer to stop hurting people I love I volunteered. They are going to send a survey once a year and do genetic and other testing on my blood. Some of which will be frozen for new tests in the future.

I hate having blood taken because I have rolling veins and they are hard to hit so I usually ask for the pediatric phlebotomist. So I girded my loins and let the vampires have me and I was impressed, she got it on the first try after she took her time and found the best one. She said she could see the scars of other tries so she was careful. So now I wait for the next questionnaire and hope someday it will keep someone else’s loved one from getting any nasty cancers.