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The mole hill is becoming Mount Everest

We tend to think of cancer as an end of life disease affecting more older people than other age groups,  and that may well be true. I don’t know the statistics on age groups. We all know it sometimes hits children, but that is so unthinkable and so against the fabric of life that it feels like an aberration of a sort but I am not sure it is as uncommon as we wish it was.

Then there is the age group of our grown children, many of whom are parents of younger children themselves. That also feels so wrong. So unfair. But cancer has no sense of fairness. It is a monster that feeds indiscriminately on everyone in its path.

Everyone who has a brush with cancer comes away changed. Some survive and some do not, but all are wounded. Close family and friends are also affected in varying degrees. Some feel lucky that it has not hit them, but statistics on this disease show that more and more people are getting it — the numbers of victims is increasing. Cancer appears to be an epidemic, and for all the money being spent on it, it is not being beaten back.

I hope that as much money as is being spent on treatment and cure is also being spent on cause. What is causing this epidemic in such numbers?

The Internet and bookstores are full of people’s opinions about what might cause it, but there seems to be no clear consensus. Those who have opinions seem sure of theirs, but there are almost as many opinions as there are people.

There are some common threads, though: chemicals in our food and in our environment, the lack of nutrients in mass produced food, holes in the ozone layer.

But these things have been there for a while, so are the effects of these things cumulative?

Are we really as powerless as we feel?

We run back and forth swallowing herbs and natural powders whose names we can’t pronounce,  giving up foods that might be a problem, using some cleaning products and discarding others. Is any of this helping? I honestly don’t know, and I don’t think anyone else does either. It probably doesn’t hurt, but it isn’t the definitive answer we need.

My family does not have a long history of cancer, but in addition to me, I have had two 30-something family members with a devastating diagnosis. One was my niece with a vicious brain tumor that she fought with great courage but could not beat. She is gone from us now, but her light stays with us. The other is a beautiful young mother of three who is riddled with cancer that is not really treatable.

Lots of people are asking “how can this happen?” All we can do is stand outside and scream “no” at the sky, but that is not really very effective.

These are difficult issues to unravel, and I am left hoping that some of our brightest young minds are working tirelessly to find answers to these questions.

People in this country are good at overcoming obstacles if they see them and know what they need to do. However, I do think we need to hurry while there are still enough of us to work together.

This mole hill is becoming a mountain, and it is starting to resemble Everest.

Meanwhile it has been suggested that our next family reunion should be held at MD Anderson Cancer Center, just to be safe.

This story was posted on October 10, 2012.