– Marina Budd, staff
For decades cancer has been the leading cause of mortality in Canada. In 2011, almost 28 thousand people died due to cancer related diseases. Ten thousand were men diagnosed with prostate cancer, four thousand were men were diagnosed with lung cancer. In women, nine thousand suffered from breast cancer and three thousand had lung cancer. Due to its numerous forms, finding a cure to cancer is proving to be very difficult. In order for a cure to be found, researchers need to understand what causes the diseases.
When a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, the hope is that the doctors will do anything in their power to make them better, to perform a miracle. Long days are spent at the hospital, talking to countless professionals and constantly waiting for test results.
Linda Stratford was married to her husband Thomas for 30 years before he passed away from Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in October.
“He went so fast,” Stratford said. “It was like we found out and the next week he was gone.”
Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is a cancer located in the lymph nodes. A lymph node is an oval-shaped organ located around your body that acts a filter for foreign substances. It may also attack the spleen and other organs in the immune system. There are no known causes however, those who are HIV positive or recently had an organ transplant may be at risk due to their weakened immune system. Symptoms on the other hand, differ based on the parts of the body it’s affecting. They include, lumps in the lymph nodes, night sweats, chills, fever, itching, and weight loss. There may be signs of coughing or shortness of breath if the cancer has spread to the wind pipes.
“Tom had a tumour in his stomach,” she explained. “He told me about his pain last June after my daughter’s wedding. We were eating dinner and he said he felt a sharp pain in the front of his stomach. I just thought maybe he ate too much too quickly. After that day he would complain about how it hurt to bend over.”
Stratford noted that Thomas hated going to the doctors and he never went to see one until she forced him to in September of 2011. There he received a biopsy and two weeks later, he was diagnosed with the cancer. Thomas had eight blood transfusions in two weeks and lots of antibiotics to try and fight the tumour.
Stratford explains the most terrifying night she ever spent with her husband.
“Well, I was spending the night at the hospital when he woke me up to help him to the bathroom,” Stratford explained. “I went to get a nurse and by the time I got back my husband was in agonizing pain. I asked him what hurts and he said my stomach. Then the nurse came in and there was a pool of blood all over the bed and floor.”
Stratford asked the nurse what happened to her husband and the nurse told her she had no idea.
“I was angry! The nurse just kind of stood there at first not knowing what to do! I yelled and told her to get a doctor. She ran out of the room to grab, what I’m assuming was the head nurse. She told me that she thought the tumour in his stomach had exploded.”
Thomas then went for chemotherapy, but passed away two days later.
Stratford wishes they had caught the cancer in time because she would still have her husband with her.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, also known as the CCS, lung cancer is the cause for most mortality in men and women for the year 2011.
The CCS was asked the question that everyone wants to know the answer to, “Will there be a cure for cancer?” The answer that they provided was they are closer than ever in understanding the disease. They also said that now there is a 62 per cent chance that those who are diagnosed with cancer will survive compared to the 1 in 3 chances in the 1960s. The CCS also claimed that the number of deaths in women who were diagnosed with lung cancer has decreased. This is because of the better treatments that are provided. Surgeries are less invasive, chemotherapy drugs are being improved constantly and radiation is safer than it ever has been. Researchers have been studying more about stem cells because these cells have the ability to transform into any kind of cell. Stems cells have been used as treatments for a variety of diseases, cancer is one of them. Cord blood from when a baby is born can be donated for stem cell research as well as women’s eggs from her uterus.
The CSS will continue to research and try to find a cure for cancer. The key advice that they gave was eat right, stay active and see your doctor as soon as you notice something is different about your body. This will hopefully help prevent cancer from taking any more lives.
– Marina Budd, staff