Realities Of Life When You Know You're Going To Die
Cracked spoke with three young women -- Susanne Kraus-Dahlgren, Jo Evelyn Ivey, and Christina Shaw -- who all have Stage IV metastatic cancer, meaning the disease which originally crashed in their breasts or lungs has set up camp all over their bodies and shows no signs of leaving. They told us ... (click for full) http://goo.gl/6oTgsZ
- •Cancer Doesn't Care Who You Are97 percent of lung cancer patients are 40 or older, and the average age at diagnosis is 70. Yet there's been a significant uptick in lung cancer diagnoses among young nonsmoking women, thanks to a mutated gene that's begun working its way down through the population, in the most unwelcome trend since Uggs. It can take a long time to diagnose these women, largely because active teens and 20somethings don't tend to get body scans.
- •Life Goes On, Right Up Until It Doesn'tSusanne likens having a metastatic diagnosis to being "stuck in the middle of the road with a bus barreling down on you, but you can't tell how close it is or when it's going to hit you." Metastatic breast cancer has a five-year survival rate of 22 percent, which is a grim prognosis, to be sure, but it's also wildly variable. Susanne and Jo Evelyn have been told by their doctors that they'll never be rid of the cancer. "To stop treatment would mean I'm going into hospice,"
- •People With Terminal Cancer Are Often Ignored By Both Charities And ResearchersOne reason it's hard to say how long our sources have is that science treats metastatic cancer patients like a lost cause, a case of throwing good money after bad. Less than 0.5 percent of National Cancer Institute grants in the previous 30 years went to studies on metastatic cancer because, in Jo Evelyn's opinion, "We're all going to die, so they kind of write us off."
- •You're Expected To Play The Part Of The Inspirational HeroIn all-stages breast cancer support groups, many people with Stage IV are told that maybe they shouldn't talk about metastatic disease or share their story, because it's 'scary' to early-stagers who want to think they 'beat' cancer," Susanne says. "We're dying and being told to be quiet about it because it doesn't fit in with the propaganda."
- •People Assume You Did Something To Deserve It"Whenever someone finds out I have Stage IV lung cancer, one of the very first questions they ask is if I was or am a smoker," as if they're "trying to do some detective work to see if I brought this disease on myself ... Everyone is always shocked to learn that I've never touched a cigarette, the hardest drugs I'd done was ibuprofen, and I didn't even have my first alcoholic drink until I was 21."