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MCCULLOUGH: Keep up cancer fight

Nate McCullough

Nate McCullough

I was leaving my doctor's office the other day when a cancer patient got on the elevator with me.

It wasn't hard to guess that she had cancer. She was being pushed in a wheelchair. She was wearing a knit hat to cover her head, bald from radiation, and I could see the port in her neck where they pump her full of chemo. But what struck me most was how defeated she looked.

This lady was slumped in her chair, but she didn't just look sick and tired. She had a look on her face of weariness, of someone who was ready to give up. I know nothing of this lady other than visual observations, but that look told me she'd had enough.

I don't know if she's been fighting for six months or six years, but that look made me want to fight for her and those like her.

I haven't always had the most positive attitude about those efforts. No matter how many ribbons people wear and charity races they run in, the list of people I know who are affected by or die from cancer just seems to grow. I'd pretty much gotten to the point to where I thought all the fundraising seemed pointless.

But then person after person has reminded me of how lucky I am that the tumor in my head is not cancer. And doctor visit after doctor visit I think, "It could be worse." But I didn't fully realize the truth of that until my elevator ride with this lady, until I was reminded of what cancer looks like in progress.

I'd just been told that I could hold off on surgery, and with no worsening symptoms or tumor growth, maybe indefinitely. The doctor actually said, "You're not dying of cancer, so quit worrying about that." Other than regular MRIs, things could go back to normal for me, for a while anyway.

The lady in the elevator obviously didn't have that choice. Normal got off her train many stops ago.

I don't know if they will ever cure cancer. Someone I know whose wife works in that sort of research thinks they will, and I'm glad we've got people with that kind of optimism working on it.

I also don't know what the best thing is for the average person to do. I lean more toward maybe giving someone a ride to the doctor or taking them a meal than just throwing money in a bucket and never knowing where it goes, Then again, the researchers need the money, too.

What I do know is this: We need to keep trying.

The fundraising and the volunteering may never fully succeed, but every step closer to relief or cure could mean one less lady in an elevator, headed down in more ways than one.

Email Nate McCullough at nate.mccullough@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Fridays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/natemccullough.

Comments

Why_not 1 year, 5 months ago

I visited St. Jude's hospital many, many years ago when a high school friend was being treated there for leukemia. Unfortunately, my friend didn't survive his ordeal, but I still remember his optimism and the same optimism on the faces of all the other kids there for cancer treatment. All these years later I have not forgotten those faces. Maybe that's why I make an automatic donation monthly to St Judes and will continue for the rest of my days. I know where that money goes.

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Cousin_Courageous 1 year, 5 months ago

Sadly, cancer touches everyone’s life in some way. I'm excited that I'll be registering for my first full marathon (26.2 miles!) tomorrow morning when registration for the St. Jude Marathon opens. This year I will be in charge of a team for a local child being treated at St. Jude and we will all run as St. Jude Heroes to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. In 2009, I ran my first half-marathon (13.1) miles as a Hero for St Jude and that short run through their campus changed my life. Those kids came out to cheer for us when they were the ones fighting the real battle! I have been back to run every year since. My username is Cousin_Courageous because Nate wrote his column about me (July 29, 2010). He wrote about some of my adventures in life and how I had changed from a shy little girl into a "sort of female version of that most interesting man in the world in those beer commercials." Some of the things I have done to conquer my fears might be courageous to some people, but the real brave people in the world are the ones who fight things like cancer. I can't think of a better reason than St. Jude to run 26.2 miles...other than that it's another thing to add to my list of adventures!

http://www.gwinnettdailypost.com/users/photos/2013/apr/30/68681/

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by Cousin_Courageous

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