Friday, July 21, 2017

I am familiar with this killer

Glioblastoma, I know your name. In the past decade, you've taken away a close friend, a close relative, and two local acquaintances I had admired and respected. Getting to know your name was painful. Initial shock. Determination. Reason for hope, though minuscule. Dashed hopes. Final acceptance. Lives stolen away early.

Now Senator John McCain has the sobering, frightful diagnosis. He has survived so much — airplane crashes, a deadly shipboard fire, being shot down over North Vietnam. Five years of torture and mental, emotional, physical stress, permanent physical damage. The demeaning lies of political campaigns.

But now it's different. This is Glioblastoma. You killed Ted Kennedy and Beau Biden. Nothing stands up against you. Not wealth, not fame, not political power, not heartfelt prayers, not youth.

Glioblastoma, you are an accomplished killer. You defy surgery, chemo, radiation, herbal "cures." You may be diverted, but in the end, you win.

When you stole my brother-in-law's hopes and dreams and lease on life, his extended family gathered for a rally/fundraiser against brain cancer. Thousands came out to defy you at the Duke Brain Tumor Center. Many families posted photos and tributes to loved ones who had received the diagnosis and had pinned their hopes on this hospital acknowledged as the best there is against the killer you are. The steadfast love and determination were so inspiring until I noticed the most salient fact from all those posters: each one showed death had followed diagnosis by no more than about 18 months to two years; some much faster than that.

Glioblastoma, I know your name. And I am in awe of your power.

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