Baldies' Blog began originally in the UK by a 26 year old journalist with a blood cancer on a mission to inform the world about bone marrow donation.

He has since died, and I took on the cause of making cancer care more transparent for everybody.

Cancer is a disease that will touch everybody through diagnosis or affiliation: 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed and 1 in 3 woman will hear those words, "You Have Cancer."

I invite you to read how I feel along my journey and
how I am continuing to live a full life alongside my Hodgkin's lymphoma, with me controlling my cancer, not my cancer controlling me.

I hope that "Baldies' Blog" will prepare you to handle whatever life sends you, but especially if it's the message, "You Have Cancer."

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Cancer Family

My husband, Jon, had a carcinoid tumor found in his bowel in July 2008, after he had undergone a significant bowel resection for his Crohn’s Disease.
His surgery required twenty centimeters of his bowel to be removed along with his ileo-cecal valve, which was so scarred what should have opened widely would only open the diameter of a pencil eraser.
It took three hundred sutures and staples and an eight inch abdominal incision to put him back together again.
In English, my husband had cancer, and it took a whole lot of cutting to get it out.
It was found by accident (also known as an “incidental finding”) during a surgery to help alleviate severe, constant pain caused by his chronic irritable bowel disorder. The constant inflammation had caused diffuse scarring and surgery to remove the scarred area was his only option.
To summarize, my husband and I both had cancer in our twenties. His Crohn’s disease was diagnosed in April 2004, two years prior to my diagnosis with Hodgkin’s Disease.
Ouch. Call it bad luck. Call it Karma. Call it what you want. I’m beginning to think it is not quite the coincidence we would hope it to be.
If bad genes were the cause for our health misfortunes, we would have a significant family history of cancers.
Neither of our families does.
It is hypothesized that from exposure to the development of cancer takes longer than five years. This is a huge obstacle to finding the original source of exposure and the ultimate cause of cancer.
You can only imagine all the places we’ve traveled and the things we have done in the past five years that could be used to explain away our illnesses.
Jon and I started dating in 1999. After this time we spent the majority of our lives where we reside currently.
Most specialists ascribe to the theory that cancer is caused by a “trifecta” of causes. The body is possibly exposed to an environmental carcinogen that hits an immune system that for unknown reasons can not identify defective cells (steps one and two). The third factor calls for something within the body to allow, or even incite, the proliferation (accumulation) of cells into tumors.
One, two, three, you have cancer.
Many people have potential cancer causing cells, not all of them get cancer.
J and I both did.
When the lymphatic chain in my neck began to swell, so did my son’s lymph nodes. He was two at the time.
I held on tightly to the possibility we had “cat scratch fever,” which is not just a fun old school song. It’s a virus that inflames the nodes and causes low grade fevers, both of which we were experiencing.
When I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s I was horrified, and not just for the obvious reason that I had cancer, for the reason that whatever I was exposed to, I expected that my son had been exposed to also.
There is a theory that inflammation causes/contributes/correlates to cancer. NSAIDs (ie Motrin), vioxx, and celebrex have all been considered as possible adjuvant treatments, and all have been rejected for study due to known side effects.
Berberis Hommaccord is a naturopathic anti-inflammatory herb that is recommended in Germany in accordance with the idea that inflammation contributes to cancer.
It is scary to think that something in our environment may be causing a dangerous inflammation within our bodies that has caused our cancer.
Luckily, Jon’s tumor was encapsulated (contained) in his bowel. It did not require any intervention other than its removal. He has a colonoscopy to check the status of his Crohn’s on Thursday.
However, in the words of his gastroenterologist, who I have to say is one of the coolest doctors I have ever met, “who knows what may have happened if we hadn’t done the surgery.”
Who knows?


Kairol Rosenthal said...

On your cancer and environment question:

I interviewed in my book Everything Changes, an 30-something environmental lawyer with stage 4 colon cancer. He said that it is often not one environmental culprit but the combination of elements (much like the multifaceted cause of cancer itself.) The average American has 100-200 synthetic chemicals in our bloodstream, he explained. It may not be just any one chemical's toxicity that triggers cancer but a combination of 3 or 4 of them in reaction to one another. If so, it is nearly impossible to create a controlled study because of the infinite variables. As he put it, we are all guinea pigs right now! Yikes.

Hope you and your fam. is doing well.


andyson said...

I too think that the environment has a strong hand in whether we develop cancer. However, the Hodgkin's is also genetic, and in our case, whatever had to happen to get the nodes to grow was triggered. In addition, and something I'm going to look into eventually, is the connection between HL and melanoma, which I also had. I had that diagnosis first, and had the cells removed. Because of that scare, I became paranoid and actually took the time to go see a doctor about the huge lumps on the side of my neck.

Now, the question is, did I have HL before the melanoma, or did it develop after? I'll never know.

However, I found out that the same chemo drugs are used to treat both. Interesting fact.

It is always interesting where the road leads you, especially if it starts to take dramatic turns.

I sent you the pics, as requested. I don't have a recent one of me and the future missus together, but I'll work on that.

- B