Wednesday, 3 July 2013


Today marks the beginning of another chapter of my family's ongoing battle with cancer. After my aunt died of liver failure caused by cancer metastases in 2001, aged 50, and after my father died of same causes in 2010, aged 56, their sole remaining sibling, my other aunt, is starting chemo today because of breast cancer. She is 61.
Should I feel better because the age at which this silent killer attacks is extended in each case? I hoped it would skip her and we, the second generation, could find a grain of consolation in that and not think of ourselves as destined for doom once we hit 50. What does this say of our genetic make up? Statistics are ruthless. We are all in great risk by sheer virtue of being our parents' offspring. One 'faulty' parent is all it takes.
I am aware a lot of this has to do with lifestyle and habits, environment and circumstances. But among the three of them, my father was the one who most contributed to his own demise and one would think ok, fair enough, he had it coming. For my eldest aunt who died first - no such explanation/excuse. She led a healthy life, ate well, exercised, and went for regular check ups. And yet when she was diagnosed they gave her 2-3 months before the bitter end. She beat all the odds and survived that prognosis by two years. But she never lived to see her daughter get married and give birth to two beautiful granddaughters.
My other aunt is overweight, granted, and a chain smoker, so I guess it's no surprise as well. But in her case the monster didn't raise its ugly head until she ventured into her 60s. And breast cancer has by far a more optimistic survival rate than liver/colon cancer. Yet, I'm not consoled. I'm worried and sad. I am trying to stay positive and send positive thoughts her way and I really, really want her to fight a good fight and come out victorious at the other end.
Another thing I'm noticing - dealing with this, the disease, the diagnostics, the surgeries, the chemo and prognosis - it's somehow easier each time. You know the drill, you know how it goes and what lies at each turn. And the fact that I have a doctor husband does not actually help - I am faced with the ugly, medical home truths about it all, no sparing my feelings and no beating about the bush. Blood, sweat, vomit and tears. The lot.
I wish I had more positive feelings on this. I wish I had a better attitude towards the disease and doing something about it. I'm still at the stage where I'm mostly paralyzed by prospects and fear for my own life. But I have a child and I have a responsibility to her - to stay sane foremost, and to stay healthy.

Dragonfly - the perfect example of the fleetingness of life

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