Saturday 6 March2010 I decided to participate in the annual CANSA Shavathon. I’d only done it once before, when my employer at the time offered to sponsor anyone who wanted to have their hair shaved or sprayed. As I was in the process of growing my hair at the time I had my locks sprayed purple and silver.
Wait, let me tell you about my experience with cancer first.
In 1995 my grandfather passed away from cancer. That after it was in remission for several years. He was the most important person in my life. He loved me unconditionally; he taught me about science and languages and life. He is the man every other man in my life will be measured to. That loss has left me bitter and resentful towards the people preaching that cancer can be cured.
During in2008 my mom discovered a couple of lumps on her thyroid. When I was in primary school she had a cyst removed from her thyroid. It turned out to be benign and no one gave it any more thought after that. Until the new bumps showed up. Thyroid cancer is prevalent under women in their mid-thirties so we assumed it would be a couple of cysts again. In December she had an operation and removed pretty much her entire thyroid. And then we got the news. It was cancer. We were shocked.
The treatment was pretty straight-forward: radioactive iodine treatment; first a single treatment, three months later a double treatment dosage followed by a PET scan and in all likeliness a clear bill of health. Since iodine is exclusively absorbed by thyroid cells, the treatment will be effective, regardless of where the cancer could possibly spread to. Except after the second treatment the PET scan showed the cancer had, in fact, spread. So another double treatment.
After moving back home in 2004, my mother and I became a lot closer. She had become one of the new most important persons in my life. Now cancer came back to take her away too. I was distraught. Then in August, after the third treatment and second PET scan we got the news: she’s clean.
But I do not take it as her cancer being cured. I’m well aware that it is still somewhere in her body, hiding, waiting for an opportunity. It’s in remission. Because the simple truth is, that cancer cannot be cured. It can be treated. It can be managed, controlled – if detected early enough – but there is no cure for cancer. Yet.
However, with funds, like those raised during the Shavathon, and awareness, like that created with my ridiculously short hair, more and better research can be done to find a cure.