Oct 20, 2006 - 12:06 pm
In December 2006 I will celebrate the 35th anniversary of my first surgery. I was diagnosed with primary chondrosarcoma of the upper femur when I was 17 and was treated with cryosurgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering.
Neither chemo nor radiation would have helped in my case - and I say that now thankfully - as the long-term effects of those treatments are just beginning to be understood.
My long-term effects fall more into the range of the ironic and unexpected - for example - that I've lived long enough now to have developed degenerative arthritis in the hip that was so banged upon all those years ago. It doesn't come as a total surprise - my orthopedic oncologist and I discussed it long long ago - and yet it's still a novelty to me.
I would be happy to communicate with any young person going through adolescent cancer right now. Because cancer is many diseases, its psychosocial effects vary widely, too - depending on factors such as your age, gender, etc. And each person deals with it in their own unique way depending, in great part, on your own personality and temperament.
Personally, when I speak of cancer I use the present perfect tense: I HAVE HAD cancer.
The present perfect tense refers to actions in the past which have results in the present - but it leaves the future wide open.
That's the thought I'd like to leave with any adolescent cancer patient: the future is wide open.
For those who seek guarantees in life - that may not be so comforting. But for those who are not averse to a little risk taking - let me assure you the rewards can be great!