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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Sunday, July 26, 2009

In Memory of Adam Ferland

“Never Trust A Skinny Cook” –Unknown

My family went to a another funeral.

I, again, did not attend.

This funeral was especially hard on my parents.

A relation of mine (second cousin) died unexpectedly at the age of twenty-nine.

Adam Ferland was diagnosed with Leukemia less than a week before his sudden death at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.

He was young, he was related, and he died suddenly of leukemia.

You can all see why his death is extremely difficult.

I have been avoiding funerals for a while now.

All the recent funerals have been deaths by cancer. I don’t want to see the reality that people actually die of this disease.

I especially don’t want to see that relatively healthy twenty-nine year olds drop dead suddenly.

My parents didn’t attend the reception afterwards. I was impressed they even attempted the funeral.

Adam’s Obituarary is as follows:

Mr. Adam G. Ferland

August 19, 1979 - July 21, 2009

Adam G. Ferland, 29, of South Royalton, VT and formerly of Claremont, NH, died on July 21, 2009 at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center following a brief illness. He was born on August 19, 1979 in Claremont, NH, the son of Louis and Nancy (Marvin) Ferland. Adam attended St. Mary’s Elementary School and was a 1998 graduate of Stevens High School in Claremont. On January 2, 2005, he married Pat Densmore in Sharon, VT. Adam was employed the past few years as an inventory coordinator at King Arthur Flour in Norwich, VT. He enjoyed his family, fishing, his pets, and working on vehicles. Adam also assisted with the Sharon Share Program, which helped to provide low cost meals to people. He was predeceased by his paternal grandparents, George and Gilberta Ferland, and his maternal grandparents, Frank and Theresa Marvin. Members of his surviving family include his wife, Pat Densmore of South Royalton, VT, his parents, Louis and Nancy Ferland of Claremont, a brother, Spencer Ferland and his wife Lindsey of Claremont. He is also survived by his step-sons, Timothy Calabro and his wife Katie of Randolph, VT, and Daniel Calabro of Barnard, VT, his niece, Kayleigh Kendall Ferland, who was born on June 28, 2009, his friends Sara (Bowie) Svendsen, Alissa (St. Pierre) Bascom, Josh Wyman, Josh Stocker, and Darel Limoges, and his aunts, uncles, and cousins. A celebration of Adam’s life will be held on Saturday, July 25, 2009 at 11AM at the Roy Funeral Home, 93 Sullivan Street, Claremont, NH with Rev. Shawn M. Therrien and Rev. Deacon Paul Boucher of Saint Mary’s Church and Pastor Robin Lunn of Sharon Congregational Church, officiating. Friends

may call on Friday, July 24, 2009 from 6PM-8PM at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to the Sharon Church Summer Lunch Program, PO Box 42, Sharon, VT 05065 or to St. Vincent De Paul, 32 Pearl Street, Claremont, NH 03743.

You can send messages at

I feel guilty talking about Adam’s death in terms of me, and my viewpoint, having the advanced blood disease I do; however, I think the world should have the insight.

I have seen as a common theme among twenty and thirtisomething bloggers with advanced diseases how often we latch onto each other as support, bonded by our disease in a way few people will understand, a manner that disregards all superficial information and surpasses small talk, then we experience the sudden loss of someone like us, who shared our feeling and fears on an intimate level.

The internet has provided the boundary I need to seek support but also maintain a strict boundary so if someone I care about does have a set back or die, I am insulated.

I never actually met the person. We were “only” friends on-line. This helps keep the idea of death from cancer surreal.

I can convince myself maybe that person didn’t really exist, maybe they were only a fragment of cyberspace. They didn’t really have a fiancée, a baby, five kids, a husband, mother, etc.

I can ignore their deaths and continue with the status quo.

I don’t want to process all those deaths. Imagine the stress on my poor psyche.

I haven’t processed his death, but I don’t think I will until I am well.

I hadn’t seen Adam recently. He’s a fixture of my childhood from church. I would see him every Sunday. Our families would talk, but he was just a little older than me so we didn’t have so much in common.

What I have heard about his life was wonderful. He enjoyed cooking and was active at his congregational church in Sharon VT. He helped provide meals to those who needed them.

How can anyone not take pause and feel sadness for a man who died so suddenly at such a young age who participated in caring for others?

Please take a moment of silence to think of him.

Adam did get the chance to marry and had two step-sons.

I’m happy to learn, though his life was too short, it was full.

It’s not the number of years of life but the life lived in those years.

Unfortunately, Adam is a model for the insidiousness of the symptoms that identify blood cancers.

He is evidence that young people suddenly drop dead from a terrible disease I have. I’ve known there is a possibility what happened to Adam could happen to me.

I could be fine one day and suddenly suffer a setback so extreme it takes my life.

This is a reality I try to deny, but I also try to live my life accordingly.

I am happy for the years I have lived with my cancer. I am so sad for Adam and his family that they did not have the time to process his disease, and grieve in anticipation, of his death.

I am also stunned by the fact that he was born and raised in Claremont, in a vicinity that has seen a large number of diagnosis and deaths from blood disorders.

I think he grew up in West Claremont, which would put him within a five mile radius of my home and where I grew up.

In this radius, I live with my Hogkin’s disease as well as another young woman with resistant Hodgkins. A mile down the road lived a woman in her twenties who was diagnosed with leukemia and passed during transplant.

Now, Adam has died.

That’s four in a very small area. It is also 50/50 life or death.

These four people have been diagnosed in the past 3.5 years.

I don’t know how much more evidence is needed to say there is a cluster of blood cancers in this area and have someone research the cause.

I’m too sick to tackle this clear pattern.

Adam was diagnosed with leukemia less than a week before his sudden death.

He is the victim of the vague symptoms of leukemia, and also our medical system that’s dynamic discourages second opinions and limits access to outside care.

Adam was a cook who loved to eat and suffered from diabetes.

Though his diabetes was controlled through the use of an insulin pump and was apparently well controlled, his symptoms were attributed to his appearance of overall lack of health.

Any swelling in his abdomen was probably disregarded as obesity. The fatigue and aches were attributed to his diabetes.

I think there is confusion in what is being discussed as a “single payer system.”

In this system, a new option for healthcare would be available. It would not erase the existing system entirely.

Health care in America functions on the capitalist economics 101 principle of supply in demand.

Demand for health care is high, and will only get higher with the influx of the baby boomers, people living longer, and living with chronic diseases that once led to an early death.

Theoretically, all this demand with a limited supply is causing sky rocketing prices, as well as inability to access care.

It seems, Adam couldn’t access care other than his primary doctor who had difficulty seeing past a twenty-nine year old, overweight, diabetic.

In the single payer system, he would have the option of buying into a different insurance plan giving him the option to say, “Forget you, Doc. I have seen you three times. I know something is wrong, and I am going for a second opinion.”

Our current insurance system doesn’t allow this. It ties the hands of patients with vague symptoms and dangerous diseases.

Now, as Adam as an example, we all see what happens in this system: young, caring individuals die suddenly.

The health care reform idea would simply add more options, more supply, to a system with skyrocketing demand.

I do not think this sounds socialist.

Place yourself in the shoes of Adam or me, even if it was, is it better to be sick than socialist?

Clearly, there was a delay in diagnosis, which is also a huge recurring theme seen among the stories of young men and women being diagnosed with cancers.

Even I had side effects which I sought treatment for in December 2005. I was officially diagnosed in April 2006.

Remember, during this period I was working as a nurse. I was surrounded by diagnosticians, any of which I could stop and clobber with questions. Most of which respected my medical opinion regarding others. They respected what I had to say regarding me.

In Adam’s instance, the cause of the fatigue, aches, and probably extreme pain weren’t pinpointed early enough. His tumors had grown enough to take their toll and overwhelm his vital organs.

He likely was in the position so many of us find ourselves in where we know something is wrong but we hit a healthcare wall.

He kept hitting the wall until it was too late.

Please take today to remember Adam and pray for his loved ones and family.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your kind words on Adam's behalf but unfortunately as usual there is misinformation, I'd like to clear some things up. He had the best care possible and the doctors and nurses and his PC were always by his side. Adam was obese all his life. He never had diabetes. His sugar became high because of the high doses of steroids, prednison, during his 10 days in the hospital. He had blood work done, during his yearly physical, less than a month before and all the number were good. Adam's disease came on fast he had no idea he was sick, he was at work the Friday before he went to the hospital, his symptoms came on in a instant and he bled to death as the result of the cancer moving so fast the chemo couldn't get control of it. He was the bravest man I've ever known and wanted so much to get well and get back to doing his good deeds. Adam was my son.

Marci Cooke said...

so sorry to hear about the death of your cousin. I too find it difficult to hear of death by cancer.

Marnetta said...

I am so sorry to hear about Adam. I worked with Adam some at KAF as well as his wife and brother. He was always a friendly, helpful guy. I will miss him. My condolences to ALL the family.
I will miss you Adam.

Anonymous said...

It's been eight years since we lost Adam from our lives. I think of him often. He was a purely kind soul. those who knew him well knew he was more complex than he seemed.
Adam...say Hi to MEM and PEP for us...Miss your smile.