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My grandmother's cancer story

JanJan63's picture
Posts: 2482
Joined: Sep 2014

My grandmother was diagnosed with bowel cancer in the 1950s. Her story is what gives me hope during all of this. I hope it will give others hope as well so I'm going to share it.

We called her nana. She was born in 1898 so in the fifties when she was diagnosed she was in her fifties. She worked as a nurse so possibly it was diagnosed early but I don't know how they'd have found it in those days. I also don't know if bowel cancer is what we now call colorectal but I'm assuming it is. She had surgery to remove it but I unfortunately don't know what was done as a follow up, or was there any kind of chemo in those days, I don't know. And anyone that could tell me is gone now. I suppose I could look it up but it wouldn't tell me what she had done.

Anyway, she had surgery to remove the cancer and a colostemy was done at the same time. She went on to be healthy and continued to work as a nurse. She died within a year of returning from a four month trip to Australia that she'd taken by herself. Her kidneys had failed. She was hospitalized and they checked her out fully and incredibly she was so healthy she was a candidate for a transplant. She refused because she was eighty-four years old and said she'd never take a kidney that some young person could have. She'd been living on her own in an apartment and had been independant and active. I remember shopping with her a couple of months before she got sick and being tired myself while she was still going. The main thing is that she didn't die of cancer. 

I can only imagine how rudimentary the treatment was for cancer in the 1950s and I know her colostomy was old fashioned and required about an hour in the bathroom almost every day but she lived a long life and enjoyed good health right until the end. I was adopted so I'm not related to her by blood but her story is what I cling to when I feel negatively about all of this. It's what keeps me optimistic. I hope it will help someone else, too.


LivinginNH's picture
Posts: 1458
Joined: Apr 2010


What a coincidence!  My grandmother was also born in 1898, and was operated on for colon cancer during the 1970's  - and no chemo or anything afterwards.   She lived a pretty healthy life after the operation until she passed at 93 yrs. old!  She always said she lived so long because she ate a banana every day.  ;)  So one just never knows what will happen, chemo or not.

Take care,


Nana b's picture
Nana b
Posts: 3045
Joined: May 2009

Thanks for sharing.  Pretty awesome grandma's. 

JanJan63's picture
Posts: 2482
Joined: Sep 2014

Thanks for sharing the story about your grandma! So bananas are the key, hey? I like them but they give me indigestion.

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