Recently found out from a fellow hodgkin’s survivor that yet another has befallen the fate of death (they were both diagnosed around the same time I was and we still communicate on/off since remission). It was not the cancer itself that killed him. No. It was a drug that he was taking for an extremely rare side affect / complication from a bone marrow biopsy that was performed at the beginning of staging (I sense malpractice…), which caused complications and resulted in liver failure. They were only able to correctly pinpoint what was wrong with him in late March this year, 5 years after the bone marrow biopsy. He passed away exactly months later. I was shocked. We were all shocked. The way I look at it, cancer was the cause, directly or indirectly.
Sure, Hodgkin’s has a high cure rate. In fact, it is often referred to as “the best cancer* to get”. But there are still those who die from it or from the treatments. And it always seem like the strongest and most committed fighters lose in the battle.
He was one of those people. One who was always upbeat, never gave up, and never really complained about the unfairness of it all. One who’s there for you no matter what he himself is undergoing. One who truly believed there are more good than bad people. One who’s always looking out for you and ways to help you through with his knowledge and experience. He was only 44 years old. Leaving behind a beloved wife who is deaf.
He was also one who strongly believed in god, always prayed, for himself and for others. And asked that others pray for him and his wife as well. I just don’t get it. There’s no just and mercy. There’s only randomness and chaos.
It’s so unfair.
Once there was this someone who pretended to have hodgkin’s and was in the support group. She studied and understood all the terminologies and treatment protocols for various stages etc. She even went as far as meeting some other fellow patients for lunch and shopping, commiserating about their journey in cancer land. And shaving her head! Once she met a fellow patient at the hospital and told the mother that she was there for chemo treatment! Later on (not soon enough) it was discovered that she had some other illness, not life threatening ones, and was the reason for her hospital visits. Of course, she’s alive and well and people forgave her. After all, she was just a young adult seeking attention and belonging of some sort. Ha.
Some sick cosmic joke.
My 5-year hodgkin’s diagnose anniversary is coming up next week. Most days I feel as though it had happened to someone else. The whole thing’s very surreal. I remember the bedridden months, the puking until I was purple in the face weeks, the umpteen trips in/out of hospital. But really, it feels it was so long ago. Eons ago. The longer I’m in remission, the easier it is to talk about it. There are still times when it feels too much to handle and I have emotional breakdowns here and there, thankfully though, the pain and devastation have faded some. Occasionally I get jolted back to the inner most fear, especially when someone passes, or when someone recurs after 7 years or even 20+ years later. Truth is, the fear never really leaves. You know how close you came with death and it’s scary. You know it could all crash down again. And again. It’s like there’s this suspended sling with a huge stretched rubber band, ready to launch the biggest boulder any minute. There’s nothing you can do but breathe, and hope with all your might that you will be spared the unfortunates. With this, I relish everyday spent with my children and family, albeit the sleeplessness and frustration of taking care of 2 young ones. Because you never really know what’s going to happen in the future, distant or otherwise.
R.I.P. dear friend. I hope your faith has carried you to a far away disease-free place that is filled with laughter and happiness. I know you will watch over all of us, like you used to do.
* Most doctors, nurses, and just about anyone with/without oncology expertise will tell you that hodgkin’s is one of “THE best cancer to get,” if you are so unfortunate as to get any type of cancer at all. It is so because hodgkin’s has a survival rate of over 90% (meaning, surviving 5 or more years after diagnosis). So one should feel LUCKY** upon diagnosis instead…
** WTF???!!! That is the worst thing to hear, right after “I know So and So’s cousin’s girlfriend’s grandpa had cancer and they’re fine now” or “Lance Armstrong had cancer and he still won Tour de France, many times!”