I’ve been a little distracted lately from the usual political drama and diatribes. They just don’t seem so critical these last few days.
Cancer. Who thought this was a good idea? Of all the bad ideas ever invented (lawn darts, the Ford Pinto, salmon-colored copy paper, plastic fake vomit, the Democratic Party), cancer has to be one of the worst things ever.
Recently, a close family member came down with a form of cancer that I can’t even pronounce. This was one of those little sneak-attacks that you don’t see coming. One thing I’m learning: If an organ is bigger than it’s supposed to be, you have a problem. Not always, but much of the time.
Our family has a history of this. My Mom passed away a few years ago because her regular doctor ignored the warning signs (odd bumps, pains, degrading health) until the initial tumor had metastacized throughout her body.
Funny thing is, an emergency room doctor spotted it. He put his hands on her and felt around. He identified the tumor in under two minutes. Say what you want, but the old-time doctors who listen and touch can work miracles that modern technology often cannot.
Not one to take this lying down, my amazing wife did her homework and looked at all of the leading cancer treatment facilities in SoCal. She reviewed UCLA, USC’s Keck, and Cottage up in Santa Barbara. All of these places offer top-rate care but one emerged head and shoulders above the rest.
It was City of Hope (CoH) in Duarte. These guys are incredible. Cancer is what they do. Started by a couple of Jewish nurses as a tuberculosis sanitorium, CoH has grown into one of the premier non-denominational cancer treatment centers in the world.
When our family member was looking for help in her home town, the doctor had to look up in their database to see if they had done that type of surgery in the past. Like, he had to look it up on Wikipedia?
In talking to her CoH doctor, the guy said, “Oh, yeah. I’ve done 3,000 of those procedures.” He didn’t even have to check his cell phone. I’ll bet he could do the surgery in his sleep, eating a ham sandwich, and playing canasta.
We went through the first surgery just fine. The organ that was removed turned out to be much larger than expected and, upon further testing, was found to be malignant. Pardon my French, but, crap.
We now are facing another surgery and irradiation after that.
The irradiation is a new one that I’ve never heard of. They do an injection of some cocktail and the patient swallows radioactive iodine which I assume is akin to ingesting Drain-o. It kills the weakened cancer cells but leaves regular cells relatively unharmed.
The patient then has to sit in a lead-lined room at CoH waiting for the effects of the medication. Seriously. A lead-lined room. I offered to wrap her in tin foil and bring her home but the doctor said no. He is letting me make a tin foil hat for her so she can get radio messages from the Mother Ship. Otherwise known as Nancy Pelosi.
One of the first thoughts that crossed my mind was if we would get in trouble if she peed at our house and it went into our septic tank. Would we get labeled as a toxic waste site?
Were you aware that they use super glue to close wounds now? They don’t even bother with stitches. As soon as the wound is healed, the skin sheds and the super glue falls off a couple weeks later. That is pretty amazing, actually.
We don’t know what the future holds through all of this. Per this incredible doctor at CoH, the prognosis is good. I am praying this is the case.
In life, we tend to get really caught up in things that don’t matter very much. Stupid Twitter posts, what some starlet wore to an awards show, or what costume a governor donned 35 years ago don’t seem as critical when a loved one is sick.
Maybe we all need to place things in perspective and realize that we all deal with terrible things like cancer in our lives. These things tend to bring us together and make us more understanding of each other.
Steve Lunetta is a resident of Santa Clarita. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.