Thursday, January 24, 2008

I should not read about cancer

if I don't want to pop an anxiety pill. So here's the way I got to the cancer Web site. An author of a book called Compassionate Caregiving wants our magazine to review her book or let her write an article about caregiving. So I was looking through the book, and the Caregiving Web sites chapter caught my eye. I turned to those pages. There I saw the reference to I logged on and saw Cancer Facts and Figures 2007. Well, of course I'm going to look at that.

I scroll down to the section on colon cancer (naturally). I looked at the survival rate (and the fact that eating a lot of red or processed meats [I AM a member of the SPAM fan club] can cause colon cancer). The one and five year survival rates for colon (and rectal) cancer are 84 percent and 64 percent, respectively. OK, that's respectable. Detected at an early, localized stage, the five year survival rate is 90 percent. Really good. However, when it is discovered in the lymph nodes (me) or adjacent organs, the five-year rate drops back to 68 percent. OK OK, that's better than half, I guess. But if it has a distant metastases (I'm not sure how distant, preferably in a nearby swine), the five-year survival rate drops to 10 percent. Really bad.

You see, an acquaintance in Nashville has just died of colorectal cancer, and she was only 41. I've been keeping up with her on her Caring Bridge Web site. One month, she was back teaching school and the next month (or so) she was dead. I didn't know her well, but her death has really affected me. I don't think it's because she also had colon cancer, but maybe. It's just that she was so loved and seemed to be a happy person. She was not going to let this cancer get her. And yet it did.

I was looking at the photos of her they used at her memorial service and tears came to my eyes. I prayed for her a lot. Lots of people did. Once when I was praying for her complete healing, the question popped into my head (from God?), "But would you trade your life for hers?" And guiltily I must admit, the answer was no.

I'm no Jesus.

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