Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Caregiver's Thoughts on Cancer Awareness

This writing is courtesy of Teresa Bacal with Control Amid Chaos

Teresa is pictured to the right with Husband Joe and their son Greyson

We’re in the thick of cancer awareness season. You can’t miss it.

Cancer awareness has different meanings based on how cancer has or has not weaved its way in to your life. If you are one of the fortunate ones whose family has not been directly touched by cancer than cancer awareness to you may simply be that you know the pink ribbons stand for breast cancer. If you, however, are one of the many who has the experience of yourself or a family member being diagnosed with cancer, then cancer awareness takes on a more personal note.

As a caretaker to a cancer patient and now survivor, I am now much more aware of the multitude of types of cancer, the many groups that raise money for cancer care or research in some form, and how cancer truly affects everyone. It can be overwhelming when you decide you want to make a difference and contribute in some form to bringing innovative therapies and the best care to patients faster, or curing cancer. The one thing I find a little disheartening is when people talk about this cancer or that cancer and how one is worse than the other. Any cancer diagnosis to the person and family getting the news is life altering, scary and crushing. The world they - the patient and family - are now living in has just changed forever and they are not comparing one cancer to another. They are just trying to figure out how to get through the day, treat their cancer and live. They are trying to get some sense of control back.

Joe Bacal refuses to let chaos bring him down. He thrives in the extreme world of off-road racing.
He waged war on cancer and won.
Joe’s on a mission to help others Take Control of the chaos in their lives.

I think it is extremely important for all those involved in cancer research and care, to remember the goal is to cure all types of cancer, not just the one they are focused on at the moment. I realize that scientists’, researchers’ and doctors’ focuses may be on one or two types of cancers so they can become a specialist in the area, and it helps them to understand how to treat and hopefully cure that type of cancer. But, let’s not lose sight of the fact that all cancers attack healthy cells in some form, therefore, they are all connected.

To separate types of cancers to such a degree that people get offended when their cancer color is used for the wrong type of cancer is losing sight of the ultimate goal. Isn’t the goal to eradicate all types of cancer? Isn’t the goal to raise funds for research that has a snowball effect and starts to cure one type of cancer and could potentially be used to cure another…and another? Isn’t the goal to cure all of our family and friends so they can live a full life, enjoy the moments that matter most to them, and be with their families until they grow old together?

I applaud anyone who supports cancer research and care in any form, whether it is with your time or money. My one recommendation if you are giving a monetary donation would be to understand how your funds are used. Is most of your donation going to the actual research? What type of research is being done with your donation? What is the background of the program and what are their goals? Is the research something that is shared with other groups?

There are so many groups out there doing research that it makes me wonder if it’s time to have a meeting of the minds and share the findings that have been discovered so far for all types of cancer. Joe and I support Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), and are so proud that Cancer Treatment Centers of America and The Gateway For Cancer Research partner with SU2C. It’s about collaboration, not competition, among scientists from different institutions on cancer research that brings innovative treatments from the laboratory bench to the patient’s bedside more quickly. It’s about creating more treatment options for patients TODAY. Cancer patients and their families don’t have time to wait or waste…

Once again, my heartfelt thanks to the Control Amid Chaos fans and everyone supporting Joe and the mission to take control of cancer and put patients in the driver’s seat of their care. You are our inspiration…every day.

Teresa Bacal

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