At my house, February 2nd is a day for celebration. Not only is it Groundhog Day, it is Cancer-Free Anniversary Day. Thirteen years ago today, my husband was cured of medullary thyroid cancer! Yep, that’s right, he was cured upon removal of his thyroid gland because his tumor was completely encapsulated within the organ. Because medullary thyroid cancer does not respond to any type of chemotherapy or radiation, my husband had no adjunct therapy. His only follow-on treatment, that continues to this day, is a regular dose of synthetic thyroid hormone. Not a bad deal, considering how difficult the cancer journey could have been. Of course, living with a thyroid patient is no easy task sometimes. Synthroid has management issues of its own, but I would rather deal with those than mobilize for a full-blown cancer battle any day.
Frankly, I can hardly believe it has been thirteen years, especially since I have two friends who are currently in the throws of their own disease battles, one for brain cancer and the other for colon cancer. Unfortunately, this doesn’t surprise me since, when my husband was diagnosed, I was told that 67% of the American population would have some connection to cancer within the next ten years. They would either fight the disease themselves or they would care for a friend or family member who was ill. Well, it is now thirteen years later and ~3400 people in the United States are diagnosed with cancer every day, while another 1500 people die from the disease. Some experts even believe that almost 2/3 of these statistics could be eliminated if people would just get regular cancer screenings. It is no wonder that organizations like the American Cancer Society and the Lance Armstrong Foundation are campaigning for an increase in cancer awareness education, as well as an increase in cancer research funding.
So, do yourself a favor, celebrate Groundhog Day by watching Punxsutawney Phil see his shadow (or not) and then make an appointment for your annual cancer screening tests.
Inspired by a little-known picture book from the pen of Bethany Tudor, this is a diary, of sorts, where I document some of my thoughts, activities, and ideas as I explore the challenges met by the characters in the story: hard work, the care and nurture of others, housekeeping skills, life changes, charity, community, and cooperation, among others. Like Samuel and Samantha, the ducks in the tale, I struggle and succeed, cope and celebrate, work and play, handling the tasks that come my way. I invite you to join me on my journey.