Local 898-- serving the Ford Rawsonville Plant

Fighting Liver Cancer

Over the past month I have learned more about cancer than I ever wanted to know. My education began with a C.T. scan to monitor an aortic aneurysm. A scan of the chest coincidentally includes a view of the liver. The report included a secondary observation that there was a spot on my liver. I was speechless. I have had several potentially fatal health problems, but there was always room for hope, a reason to fight back. In my role as a benefits rep I helped several people with liver cancer. One died within three months, the longest lived lasted for just over two years. This was a death sentence, and I knew it.

 

Within a week, I was in a surgeon’s office being scheduled for an inpatient biopsy. By that time I had pretty well decided how I would handle the whole thing. No self-pity for me. I would do whatever I pleased, go anywhere, eat whatever I pleased, and just generally have a ball. Then, while talking to a young friend, a former Marine, I told him what I figured on doing if the biopsy came back positive. His response set me back on my heels and sobered me up big time. “That is such bull crap!” he shouted. “A coward’s way out. It might not be easy on you, but what about the people who care about you? Your wife, your kids and grandkids. Friends who believe in you.” I stood there for a minute or so, coming to grips with the realization that what I had said was not dealing with it or laughing it off; it was no less suicide than what my father did all those years ago. For a moment I relived finding his body, the funeral, the devastation his selfish act brought to his wife, children, grandchildren and all who knew him. When I finally spoke, it was very softly. “You’re right.”

 

It turns out that liver cancer is largely a matter of life style choices. Although the survival rate is about fourteen percent, there are aggravating factors. It is rare for someone who has not had hepatitis B or C or cirrhosis of the liver to die. It is the underlying condition that is the real cause of death. In my case, I have never had any form of hepatitis. I drank for awhile in my twenties, but quit when a friend was badly injured in an automobile accident. His doctors told him that he had early stage cirrhosis and that if he continued to drink he was headed to an early death. I felt that the best way to be a true friend was by trying to help him quit. He went back, I did not. We lost him several years ago. I still miss him, but I am grateful to him because he helped me change my life for the better.

 

There are only three courses of treatment for liver cancer. Two are different forms of radiation therapy intended to prolong life. The third possibility is the surgical removal of part of the liver. There is no need for any radiation or chemotherapy. My surgery is scheduled for August twentieth. I might not feel up to writing much for several months, but I will be back. Thank all of you for this wonderful life you have helped me live. Feel free to touch base, I would love to see or hear from any of you. God bless you all.

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