I have a stalker.
Not one that takes out my house like paparazzi or a creepy internet one (or do I????).
Cancer is my stalker.
Both my parents died of cancer; it seems to be a reoccurring pattern in my genes.
And I know how terrible cancer can be.My dad, after his second brain surgery to remove a super aggressive brain tumor
I’ve seen cancer eat away my dad’s brain, witnessing his intelligence and strength deteriorate right before me. I saw my mother battle breast cancer for 13 years before it spread to her lungs, robbing every last breath she had.
I’ve saw chemo be a total asshole.
I saw both my parents lose all their hair, their appetite, and their immune system.As hard as this was to witness, I’m glad I got to hold his hand throughout it.
Shortly after my dad’s passing, a little more than a year ago, I had both my parents’ death certificates in front of me. It was a wake up call that cancer was the common denominator and that I had to do all I could to make sure I would break that pattern.
I’m writing this a sort of PSA in hopes to put anyone else with cancer stalker at ease. So here’s some stuff you can do if you too are haunted by this disease.
Step 1: See A Pro (and by pro, I mean an oncologist)
At only 25, I made an appointment with my mother’s former oncologist. I figured she knew my genetics well and is highly respected in this field. The call to her office was a great example of awkwardness that went something like this:
Receptionist: Tower Oncology, how can I help you?
Me: Hi, yes…I’m a new patient, and I’d like to make an appointment with Dr. McAndrew
Receptionist: Ok, what’s your diagnosis?
Me: Oh, I don’t think I have on yet. I mean, WebMD diagnosed me with cancer like 20 times in the past year, but I think I’m ok. I’m calling cause I want to take preventative measures. My mom was Dr. McAndrew’s patient 13 years ago.
Receptionist: You should get a mammogram. How old are you?
Receptionist: You’re too young, your breasts are too dense. I’ll make an appointment for you with the doctor to talk about your options.
I was a little freaked out about it all, but I just kept telling myself “oh well, at least my breasts are ‘too dense’ and ‘perky’”.
Step 2: Get Gene Tested
Here’s some important stuff you should know about gene tests:
-they are covered by insurance. Depends on your insurance of course, and depends on who in your family had cancer. Without insurance, the test runs about $3,000. With insurance, its still a little steep but less than half that. Your doctor will probably help you out with getting the best price.
-They will reduce your costs of mammograms and other preventive treatments if you ARE positive for those genes
-Having the gene increases the likelihood that your offspring will carry the gene (basically, what its important if you have kids, for their future health records)
Step 3: Live The Fuck Out Of Life
Sure, cancer haunts me, but its more like a kick in the butt to just live life to its fullest.Although this can be humiliating, this is also one of the most fulfilling things ever.
Try to worry less,
do what I love doing,
“do” who I love
and make whatever time I have on this earth worth while.
Fuck off, cancer. You can take my parents, but you can’t take my spirit.If you’re ever in LA, you HAVE to do this. I promise, spirits will be lifted!
Are you haunted by anything? A disease, a behavior, or some sort of vice? How do you stay sane about it?