As anyone who knows me or reads back issues of this blog knows, I was treated for Hodgkin's Disease back in 1998, quite successfully, thank you very much. The only long-term side effect I've seen was premature premature male pattern baldness. (I had a huge shock of hair before chemo; the hair of an average 50-year thereafter.)
Over the years, I've done a little fundraising and made contributions to organizations that fund lymphoma and leukemia research. I raised something over $4,000 in 1999, the year after I had chemo and radiation, by soliciting funds for my trip on the Seattle-to-Portland (STP) road ride (200 miles, and a lot of fun).
These two related diseases are extremely common, with leukemia being the leading cancer death among children. The related myeloma form of cancer has a 1/3rd survival rate. Hodgkin's Disease, by contrast, is well over 80 percent survival, with even higher rates for some sub-groups, after four decades of intense and ongoing testing of effective treatements. (Lymphoma are white cell diseases forming tumors or finding cells typically in the lymph nodes; leukemia is a disease of the bone marrow, in which components of blood are cancerous causing problems within the marrow, as I understand the distinction.)
Right now, two sets of family are raising money for the Light the Night Walk, sponsored by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. My cousin Kirsten and her husband Brian and their two sons just went through a rough couple of years in which Brian's frequent illness and energy loss turned out to be Hodgkin's Disease. He received a newer, more effective treatment than I did, and has gradually returned to health. They hope to raise $2,000 for their walk in Seattle. Donate here.
My mom is receiving treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukemia, a disease that still baffles me as it's not exactly lymphoma nor leukemia, the cancer cells are not immortal, it's ostensibly genetic, and it has neither exactly a cure nor a well-defined progression for every patient. Many people certainly have the disease without every receiving a diagnosis, as it can manifest as just some elevated white count and some malformed B-cells. She and my dad are raising $1500 for their walk in Eugene. Donate here.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is a great group because it's out there funding research, helping the basic knowledge grow about effective treatments for these diseases. The good news is that with higher cancer rates in recent decades cures are also improving. Survival rates and quality of life are finally better, decades into the war on cancer. In another decade or two, it may be that many cancers are highly treatable and survivable with much less effort and less stress on the body.
I know that there are three prongs to the problem: Remove the toxins in the environment that are obviously one factor in increasing the rate cancers; improve the food supply and the way people eat so that other factors (smoking, obesity, poor physical fitness, foods known to increase risk of cancer) are lessened; and increase research funding to reduce poor outcomes when people get cancer.