When Cancer Steals–or Postpones–Your Dreams

September 16, 2011. This past week, the New York Times ran two stories involving young cancer patients. The first mentioned Kevin McDowell, a star triathlete who had to drop out of the running for the world championship because he got diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

In the second story, we learned that Andy Whitfield, the former star of the show, “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” died from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was 39 years old.

Embedded in both of these stories is a truth that young survivors know all too well: cancer robs you not just of time, but of prized opportunities. Even those of us not destined to be champions or Hollywood stars have lost chances that mattered deeply to us: to go to graduate school, to move away from home, to travel the world uninsured, to have a child, to grow old.

Cancer exacted the highest price it could from Whitfield: it took his life. But even before that, it stole his dream. In early 2010, he was playing the lead in a popular show. Women swooned over his looks, and men wanted to copy his fitness routine. Then his doctor told him he had cancer, and he had to step aside so [...] continue the story

A letter from Jonny Imerman

I am a testicular cancer survivor. I was born in Saginaw, Michigan, in 1975. When I was just a baby, my parents divorced, and we moved to a suburb of Detroit called Bloomfield Hills. I attended Cranbrook Kingswood School from kindergarten through high school. After graduation, I moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Michigan. After college, I returned to the Detroit area. I worked during the day while earning an MBA from Wayne State University at night.

Suddenly, one Thursday morning in October 2001, my busy world came to a standstill. At 26 years old, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. I couldn’t believe it, so I went to another doctor for a second opinion. He confirmed that I had cancer. The testicle was the epicenter of the disease. I went right into surgery. My left testicle was removed. Although the surgery went well, my visits to the doctor did not stop there. It soon became clear that the cancer had spread (“metastasized”) from the testicle. The disease was making its way up my body. The form of testicular cancer I had was a “non-seminoma.” That means it was a mixture of many different types of cancer cells, as opposed to a “seminoma” tumor, [...] continue the story

A friend lost

I learned today that I lost a friend. We weren’t close friends… we’ve had drinks together at parties… he was more of my friend’s friend… people thought that we should be friends, and tried to get us to be friends because what we had in common was that we were both law school cancer survivors, and then young lawyers dealing with cancer. I think for this very reason we didn’t actually become friends. Because it seemed like we were supposed to have this connection… but in real life, when you are with your friends, and hanging out… that isn’t necessarily what you want your connection to be. Like so many things, I don’t know if that makes sense.

I think its the same reason why I’m no good at support groups. Why I can’t seem to muster the motivation to go to a cancer summit… talk one on one, or face to face with people. I don’t like this world in my real world.

And yet, even keeping distance between us… I find that I am still hurt, that apparently there was this connection… a silent acknowledgment that someone else had a general idea of what you were dealing with… even if [...] continue the story

I Had Cancer, A People’s History of the Disease. This is Heatheran’s Story.

Heatheran talks about her experience with ovarian cancer. She is a survivor but becoming one was not easy, this is her story.

I Had Cancer

Heatheran talks about her experience with ovarian cancer. She is a survivor but becoming one was not easy, this is her story.

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