Cancer first came into my life when I was 13 years old. It was found in the parotid gland of my Dad's neck. It was 1972, and the boat my Dad had spent a year building was sitting in our backyard, unsailed, and unused, while he was in hospital, having survived the removal of most of the subcutaneous tissue, muscle, and lymph glands on the right side of his neck and upper shoulder. Since that time in my life, the roll-call of cancer experiences has been frequent and at times, insidious. Mum experienced eye, liver, and brain cancer, and passed away when I was 19. Her two brothers passed away from lung and stomach cancer. Since 1972, my Dad has had serious, almost fatal bouts of skin and prostate cancer, and now throat cancer. His sisters have had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and breast cancer: but they are also still alive. My sister has recently survived breast cancer. My eldest brother had a malignant melanoma removed from his back, and recovered. A female cousin survived bowel cancer. I've had an SCC removed from my neck. So there you are; cancer is highly prevalent in my family, and yet, when I look into it, there is no one familial tendency to one particular type of cancer. Sure there's a lot of it, but who hasn't been touched by cancer? My story isn't unique, but it sure feels like it. I'm still wary of the Big C, even though I'm a health professional (I'm an RN, and have been for 29 years), and in a sense should know better. The end of next week, I'm off to Adelaide for a couple of weeks to help my Dad and my family with his throat cancer. He's in his third week of radiotherapy, and at 94 years of age, the side-effects are horrible, he can't eat anymore, and he's going into hospital tomorrow to have a PEG (an enteric feeding tube) inserted into his stomach. I'll keep you posted. Richard
8 Comments
Super Contributor
What a sad story!However your dad is alive ,although suffering from cancer again,at 94 after so much cancer. I was diagnosed early last year with a rare cancer called adenoid cystic carcinoma and one of my sisters was so shocked she said ,"but we don't have cancer in my family".The truth is we have many relatives on both sides of our family and in-laws who have had it,some who died from it and others who survived . I have 9 sisters and 2 brothers and I am the only one who has had cancer . My dad was killed by a hit-run drunk driver at age 48 and my mum is still alive. Yes it touches every family and we all have friends in the same situation. I hope they look after your dad well and with you there I'm sure they will.
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Hi SILLY Thanks for the support. We'll see how it goes. cheers Richard
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Frequent Contributor
Hi Richard Thanks for posting. I do not think I have heard of a more extensive list of cancerous afflictions in one family. My own is pretty free of it and somehow I have got multiple myeloma. I have lots of space around me in my family, but I dare say you would be butting up against other cancer experiences all the time. I think that would be exhausting, if nothing else. H
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Hi Harker Thanks for your supporting words. Cancer is the 'Sword of Damocles' hanging over my family. I fear, and yet at the same time, also want to - and need to - confront the prospect of cancer; look it in the eye when it is present and deal with it, and more than anything, do what I can to prevent it in the meantime. cheers Richard
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Occasional Contributor
Hi Richard, just want to wish you well in your journey, we are faced first hand with Perotid Gland Cancer as my beautiful fiancee was diagnosed on the 10th June 2011 he has had a radical neck resection with the removal of the perotid gland and lymph nodes to level 3 as well as the sub mandibular gland.. the cancer was stage 4 when we found it so he is very lucky to still be around to tell the tale. We start the process of radiation tomorrow with a trip to the hospital for the planning session. fingers crossed they have removed the dreaded thing and that the out come will be successful.. its very reassuring to know your dad has made it to such a wonderful age, my darling fiancee is only 41 so the thought of another 50 years with him by my side is something that is bringing a much needed smile to my face. best of luck for your healthy future, kindest regards Deb and T.
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Super Contributor
How is your dad?
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Super Contributor
Richard1959 strewth richard reading you're story realy brought life with cancer in perspective are the medicos doing any work on the genes in youre family You must be a very strong family to cope with all that is happening around the family,best wishes to you all for the future hope you're dad is going ok aged 94 they dont make them tough like that anymore. kj
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Thanks KJ I did enquire once with the Vic Cancer Council family cancer research group by email. I got a call back pretty quickly, and after some discussion, I'm reconciled that my family is pretty much a case of bad luck & coincidence. We may have all experienced the Big C, but the high prevalence cancers such as bowel, breast, prostate - aren't overly represented. Challenging, though. Dad's doing OK - he just keeps keeping on. Thanks for your thoughts. cheers Richard
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