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Cancer Comes Home

Dear Readers:

I’ve always supported Relay For Life, and I am proud of what Washington County has been able to do in terms of their fundraising, and perhaps more of their teamwork, camaraderie and positive attitude.

I’ve always said that even if we don’t get cancer ourselves, we all have our lives touched by it– and for me, that has been true, in an all-too-comfortable fashion. My grandfather and Uncle have had bouts of prostate cancer, both survived it. An Aunt had breast cancer, survived it. My friend’s cousin and aunt have had brain tumors and survived them.

Yay, I’m part of the cancer club, and I don’t even need to be worried or sad!

Now, things have changed, and honestly, I’m reading the columns that we get from Rebecca Ruehl for Relay for Life every week a lot more closely, and understanding what she talks about in them a lot more clearly.

I’m fine, but as terrible as this sounds, I wish it were me that’s got this thing in me. While I can say I’m glad that it’s not my wife or children, it’s about as bad as it can be otherwise – because it’s my mother that’s got it.

Let me say, I am not a fighter naturally– as much as others can bug me, I’d rather ignore them or talk to them and make peace rather than fight them. It’s the smart option.

I have been in one fight though, when I was a freshman in high school– there was an insult that at the time, was unforgivable. It wasn’t at me. I’m a fat guy and if I beat someone up every time I caught an insult in school, well, I probably wouldn’t be in school for very long.

This poor dumb schmuck decided to say something about my mother, who coincidentally he knew and had tried to help him out years earlier.

It didn’t go well for him. And to my pride, the whole baseball team saw it happen, which still makes me laugh.

Yes, as an adult, I know that fighting someone over “talkin’ about my Momma” is a ridiculously stupid thing to do, but I wasn’t an adult then.

Last week, my mother was diagnosed with CNS Lymphoma, and it’s a bit of a doozy.

“Serious but not hopeless” is how it was described. But they can’t operate at all on this particular cancer and facts and figures on it are pretty rare, some out-of-date– not enough people get it to have the same kind of body of information available on it as on some of the more common cancers.

I could go on and on about what I’ve learned about CNS Lymphoma in the past few days, and about both mitigating and complicating factors here, but that’s not what this column is about; while Mom is not doomed, her life is certainly at risk.

So I want to fight this, but I can’t close my hands around the throat of a lymphoma and I can’t punch a lesion on my mother’s cerebellum – no matter how much rage I have towards it.

What I can do is to keep reading what Rebecca writes, to keep supporting Relay For Life, and of course, to be there for my mother in any way that I possibly can be.

When Rebecca says, “the next donation could mean a breakthrough” or talks about how many lives this work has already saved, I perk up now. This was just feel-good stuff to support a worthy local cause. But that was before. Now, it’s something different.

It’s hope. And by God, that’s what I need right now.

–Alex Haglund, Managing Editor