What does the word Cancer mean? Is it just a simple word?

Posted by Merry, Volunteer Mentor @merpreb, Thu, Feb 28 9:52am

When I was first diagnosed with lung cancer I found it very hard to identify with the word, never mind the illness it represented. Back in 1997 my prognosis was less than 15% survival, so then it meant death. After 22 years and more lung cancers that I have survived it's just a word cancer- such a plain word- doesn't really mean what it did to me. Cancer is complicated, its a journey, an experience, war, battle, …fight, etc. What it means to me is being truthful, and genuine, trustworthy and completely honest. I don't have room in my life for even the slightest fib. Cancer is also life for me, because, damn, I'm still here!
What does it mean to you?

@alamogal635

My mentor has told me that it is import for one to write one's own obituary. We are the only ones who can tell our "story" in a way precious to us. Whether we know we are near, or far from death, we really never know when that time will come. One thing is certain is that it will come. Whatever support I can give you, please let me know. I will do what I can to see you through this. Anther thing I try and let go of is the concept in our minds of time. I am feeling for you and once had a lot of family obligations as you still do. That is a burden that you must let go and which your family must pick up for themselves. It isn't easy, but can be done. Right now you have the time to tie up loose ends and once that is finished you can take care of yourself int he best way you know how. Again, my thoughts and prayers are with you. What a fine person you are.

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@alamogal635– What wonderful, thoughtful words. How are you doing? How did it go?

@lbern

I received a terminal prognosis within a year. Cancer has meant intense fear and treasuring of each day.

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@ibern In 1988 I was given a very serious diagnosis. In the intervening years I continued to work full time until Oct 2015. I also decided that hearing a diagnosis that I had received did not mean a life sentence for me. I also was diagnosed with some other ailments. The most serious was in March 2015, with an extremely rare kidney disorder. Less than 50 ever diagnosed in the world and the only living patient in the US. They still don't know how much time I have left and I figure we each have an expiration date! Right after the diagnosis I took the reins to do my own funeral plans and arrangements and all of the care paperwork needed. As someone else also said I also wrote my own obituary. I live each day with gratitude, and aim for some grace.
Ginger

@merpreb

@alamogal635– What wonderful, thoughtful words. How are you doing? How did it go?

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surgery went well–no hitch and surgeon thinks it was successful–that he got anything might become suspicious. Recover, fro this kind of surgery is going well. There is some pain, but it comes and goes. Never di get a private room–there were none available and I spent the three days of in the ICU–not a good place for recuperation. It was good to get out and get back home. Being in the ICU for three nights was not unlike an episode of THE TWIGHLIGHT ZONE, or come to think of it, Jonah's being in the belly of a whale! The nurses didn't really listen to needs, were convinced I am a diabetitc–am not that. It was a loud an unrestful environment. However, I am grateful the cancer is out fo my body. What a sobering and life-changing experience–this would not have been discovered until it was way beyond curing. Also, it is also sobering to b brought up short with taking each day fo life so casually. For me it has been quite a road of more self-discovery. Who knows what will happen? Still we are given each day and should live each one fully. Still working on this and so glad have the support of this group. Thank you and all of you here.

@alamogal635

surgery went well–no hitch and surgeon thinks it was successful–that he got anything might become suspicious. Recover, fro this kind of surgery is going well. There is some pain, but it comes and goes. Never di get a private room–there were none available and I spent the three days of in the ICU–not a good place for recuperation. It was good to get out and get back home. Being in the ICU for three nights was not unlike an episode of THE TWIGHLIGHT ZONE, or come to think of it, Jonah's being in the belly of a whale! The nurses didn't really listen to needs, were convinced I am a diabetitc–am not that. It was a loud an unrestful environment. However, I am grateful the cancer is out fo my body. What a sobering and life-changing experience–this would not have been discovered until it was way beyond curing. Also, it is also sobering to b brought up short with taking each day fo life so casually. For me it has been quite a road of more self-discovery. Who knows what will happen? Still we are given each day and should live each one fully. Still working on this and so glad have the support of this group. Thank you and all of you here.

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@alamogal635– Hip hip hooray! I'm very relieved that you are home and recovering and that the doctor says that it was successful. How was it for you when you first woke up and inhaled for the first time? Did you have a problem? I agree, the ICU, or for me the"step-down" is a lousy place to rest. I'm glad that I was heavily medicated because I never would have slept at all. lol.
I had a lot of muscle spasms and they did hurt. Cancer and surgery is definitely life changing. For me, after 22 years I am still self- discovering.
Enjoy some peaceful times. I hope tht you can get out and begin walking if you have good weather- seriously one step at a time!

Liked by gingerw

Hi All:

I've been following your discussion on what the word "Cancer" means. My journey with cancer began in 2003. I had my last surgery in 2016 and I'm scheduled for a follow up in April. I have a rare form of cancer, neuroendocrine tumors, of the upper digestive tract. It is one of those rare disorders, often referred to as an orphan disease. Until I found Mayo Connect, I also thought it was a very lonely disease simply because no one had ever heard of it before.

Whether your cancer is rare or more typical, the word cancer is frightening. It does represent a chronic illness. Each cancer patient (and their medical team) have to be diligent in follow-ups and expecting the unexpected. Symptoms have to be recorded (a journal perhaps) and reported. It is rather like a game where you are on the look-out for clues.

Besides being a chronic illness cancer can be a major cause of anxiety. Therefore, as cancer survivors, we all need to be diligent about how we handle stress. For me, this means getting adequate rest, regular exercise, social contact, and good nutrition.

There is no doubt, that a cancer diagnosis puts us each on a new life-trajectory. We have a different lifestyle than our cancer-free friends. However, as we take care of ourselves we become lights to others on this journey, as we face it with courage (even faltering courage is OK), a hopeful attitude and a strong support system behind us.

@hopeful33250

Hi All:

I've been following your discussion on what the word "Cancer" means. My journey with cancer began in 2003. I had my last surgery in 2016 and I'm scheduled for a follow up in April. I have a rare form of cancer, neuroendocrine tumors, of the upper digestive tract. It is one of those rare disorders, often referred to as an orphan disease. Until I found Mayo Connect, I also thought it was a very lonely disease simply because no one had ever heard of it before.

Whether your cancer is rare or more typical, the word cancer is frightening. It does represent a chronic illness. Each cancer patient (and their medical team) have to be diligent in follow-ups and expecting the unexpected. Symptoms have to be recorded (a journal perhaps) and reported. It is rather like a game where you are on the look-out for clues.

Besides being a chronic illness cancer can be a major cause of anxiety. Therefore, as cancer survivors, we all need to be diligent about how we handle stress. For me, this means getting adequate rest, regular exercise, social contact, and good nutrition.

There is no doubt, that a cancer diagnosis puts us each on a new life-trajectory. We have a different lifestyle than our cancer-free friends. However, as we take care of ourselves we become lights to others on this journey, as we face it with courage (even faltering courage is OK), a hopeful attitude and a strong support system behind us.

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Reallt like your perspective not he word ?cancer." Wishing you the best and sending you my prayers.

@merpreb

@alamogal635– Hip hip hooray! I'm very relieved that you are home and recovering and that the doctor says that it was successful. How was it for you when you first woke up and inhaled for the first time? Did you have a problem? I agree, the ICU, or for me the"step-down" is a lousy place to rest. I'm glad that I was heavily medicated because I never would have slept at all. lol.
I had a lot of muscle spasms and they did hurt. Cancer and surgery is definitely life changing. For me, after 22 years I am still self- discovering.
Enjoy some peaceful times. I hope tht you can get out and begin walking if you have good weather- seriously one step at a time!

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Gosh, I could go on and on about the various experiences prior tot he surgery and then after. Let's see the most salient ones to talk of. I remember asking repeatedly for water when I was kind of in and out fo the anesthesia endnote getting it for quite a while. I must have slept them. When I woke up next, I expected a lot fo pain and discomfort, but didn't have it–I felt like I'd been kicked int he right side by a mule in certain positions, but in others it was just kind of sore. I was SO tired. I slept and then the charming PT woman come by and was insistent the I breath in the spirator, and then we walked a little. I felt like I had a big hard bag under my ribs. I walked, but wasn't breathing right according tot he PT and my sats were in the 80s. Gee-I'd just gotten up from surgery. Had absolutely no appetite, but was given some sort fo liquid diet and got it down as I knew to eat. The doctor came by and gave the good news and then I think Ir rested again. The TWiLIGHGT ZONE thing was a large clock not he wall which stayed 2 hours ahead of time. I'd wake up and didn't know if it was day, or night. You'd think someone there could have lifted the darned clock, reset it and that would have been that. In between I tried to work with the spirator. Wasn't too successful. Night one passed and the next day I was more with it. Ate–ordered my own meals–made myself eat as much as I could and was so thirsty–drak water and tea (Unswteeted) galore! PT sever times a day–still PT didn't like Oxygen Sats and this went on for the 3 days I was in the hospital. Really thought the hospitalization, the pain was not unbearable. Iw anted out fo there and promised to go home with Oxygen, call for home health, and had my trust housekeeper/friend stay with me for the weekend. Gosh I wanted the heck out fo there ASAP. The–doctor thought I was "one thought woman," and ah the glories of being home! I slept the sleep of the just that night and have front hen on. There are some twinges of pain–difficult to get comfortable in bed at times. I have been walking around the house a lot-1800 steps yesterday and one moping of a floor where one of my dogs had an accident. am not idle, but also rest a lot in between things. Dr. wants me on oxygen until the end of the month and so I'm waiting fro a portable one. It will come Thursday. These days I can go without the Oxygen for longer periods of time and even sleep without it. . Today PT–not the one from the hospital is coming by to show me some other exercises to do and help expend my lungs. I've been coughing more at home than I did in the hospital and this is supposed to be a good thing so I cough and honk away. By and large, it has just been week. There is soreness and discomfort at times, but for this kind of surgery, Ia ms upraised that it was not a whole lot worse. Feel blest to have had it so well. Speaks well for my surgeon and his skills. I guess I am tough. Didn't even know I had it in me! Had my old doctor not retired when redid, then I'moved to a younger once who is compulsively thorough, this cancer would never have been caught as early as it was, and things would have most likely been a whole lot worse. So I'm thankful fro all. Somehow this diagnosis has been humbling as well as a challenge in seeing how well I can recover at the age of 68. Hope that answers your questions. Hope to take my first steps outside–really walk on Friday after the portable oxygen come. I know the specter of cancer does not go completely away, but right now it feels good to know the darned thing is gone. Good riddance to a nasty crazy nodule that meant me no good.

@alamogal635

Reallt like your perspective not he word ?cancer." Wishing you the best and sending you my prayers.

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Thank you, @alamogal635. I have been following your journey and appreciate your perspectives as well. Wishing and praying for the best for you in your cancer journey.

Liked by gingerw, alamogal635

@hopeful33250

Thank you, @alamogal635. I have been following your journey and appreciate your perspectives as well. Wishing and praying for the best for you in your cancer journey.

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Want to follow your journey more closely. Wishing you the best.

When I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer 5 years ago, the survival rate was 5% (currently at 9%). There are others I know who were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer who did not survive this disease. You realize very quickly how fragile and precious life is. It is a gift. I thank God every morning for another day of life.

The things I remember the most after my surgery: The surgeon had me on an insulin drip. It was supposed to speed up recovery. But that first night, the nurse woke me up every hour to test my blood sugar. The greatest pain was not my incision, but my back. I always assumed that it was because I laid on that hard operating room table for an 8 1/2 hour surgery. About 3:00 AM, I told the nurse I had to get out of bed. She helped me walk to door of my room. I looked down the hallway and told her I wanted to go back to bed. All the nurses were fantastic. They did everything they could to make me comfortable.

@alamogal635

Gosh, I could go on and on about the various experiences prior tot he surgery and then after. Let's see the most salient ones to talk of. I remember asking repeatedly for water when I was kind of in and out fo the anesthesia endnote getting it for quite a while. I must have slept them. When I woke up next, I expected a lot fo pain and discomfort, but didn't have it–I felt like I'd been kicked int he right side by a mule in certain positions, but in others it was just kind of sore. I was SO tired. I slept and then the charming PT woman come by and was insistent the I breath in the spirator, and then we walked a little. I felt like I had a big hard bag under my ribs. I walked, but wasn't breathing right according tot he PT and my sats were in the 80s. Gee-I'd just gotten up from surgery. Had absolutely no appetite, but was given some sort fo liquid diet and got it down as I knew to eat. The doctor came by and gave the good news and then I think Ir rested again. The TWiLIGHGT ZONE thing was a large clock not he wall which stayed 2 hours ahead of time. I'd wake up and didn't know if it was day, or night. You'd think someone there could have lifted the darned clock, reset it and that would have been that. In between I tried to work with the spirator. Wasn't too successful. Night one passed and the next day I was more with it. Ate–ordered my own meals–made myself eat as much as I could and was so thirsty–drak water and tea (Unswteeted) galore! PT sever times a day–still PT didn't like Oxygen Sats and this went on for the 3 days I was in the hospital. Really thought the hospitalization, the pain was not unbearable. Iw anted out fo there and promised to go home with Oxygen, call for home health, and had my trust housekeeper/friend stay with me for the weekend. Gosh I wanted the heck out fo there ASAP. The–doctor thought I was "one thought woman," and ah the glories of being home! I slept the sleep of the just that night and have front hen on. There are some twinges of pain–difficult to get comfortable in bed at times. I have been walking around the house a lot-1800 steps yesterday and one moping of a floor where one of my dogs had an accident. am not idle, but also rest a lot in between things. Dr. wants me on oxygen until the end of the month and so I'm waiting fro a portable one. It will come Thursday. These days I can go without the Oxygen for longer periods of time and even sleep without it. . Today PT–not the one from the hospital is coming by to show me some other exercises to do and help expend my lungs. I've been coughing more at home than I did in the hospital and this is supposed to be a good thing so I cough and honk away. By and large, it has just been week. There is soreness and discomfort at times, but for this kind of surgery, Ia ms upraised that it was not a whole lot worse. Feel blest to have had it so well. Speaks well for my surgeon and his skills. I guess I am tough. Didn't even know I had it in me! Had my old doctor not retired when redid, then I'moved to a younger once who is compulsively thorough, this cancer would never have been caught as early as it was, and things would have most likely been a whole lot worse. So I'm thankful fro all. Somehow this diagnosis has been humbling as well as a challenge in seeing how well I can recover at the age of 68. Hope that answers your questions. Hope to take my first steps outside–really walk on Friday after the portable oxygen come. I know the specter of cancer does not go completely away, but right now it feels good to know the darned thing is gone. Good riddance to a nasty crazy nodule that meant me no good.

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@alamogal635– I am so sorry that it's taken me so long to respond to this post. I really felt every word in this. I'm surprised that you were so thirsty because of the saline drip in your veins. I hallucinated the first few days and threw out the PT gal so I could sleep. I let her back in in four hours. I slept four hours and was sweet as pie when she returned. 🙂

Don't worry about response time. I love following everyone on this site. I always drink a lot of water and other liquids and despite the saline drip, was dry in my throat–maybe the breathing tube–maybe a slight hallucination from the after effects of the anesthesia. Anyway, I'm glad you had a good PT therapist–don't blame you for throwing her out during the first four hours! Sounds like you did well and had good post op nurses.

The doctors never used the "C" word around me in 1975 they just said that I had Stage 4 Nodular Lymphoma, a cousin of Hodgkins. I knew what Hodgkins was, Cancer, and cancer was a death sentence at that time. I was more afraid of the word cancer than I was of dying. Once I was able to get over the fear of the word I was okay. As you have figured out I'm still alive and kicking. Chemo has changed so much in the last 50 years, for me I had to take pills for over 4 years plus 6 weeks of radiation. Radiation has side effects, thirty plus years later I am having to live with those side effect, I do not have any side effects from the chemo. I still have to have an annual check-up because a blood related cancer is never "gone/killed/dead" just dormant. I have blood work every 6 weeks so the doctors are keeping an eye on me.

Each year the treatment for cancer keeps getting better, because of what we go through. Just keep that in mind each time you have another chemo session, another surgery, or radiation session. Someone will not have to go through what you are because the doctors are learning new things because of us.

Good luck,
mlmcg

@mlmcg– good morning. I agree that both the term and treatments have changed remarkably since you started treatments. Mine began in 1997!

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