Friday, November 04, 2005

Cancer - Again

Alex's Birthday

"Dedicated researchers seek better treatments and cures for diabetes, kidney disease, Alzheimer's and every form of cancer. But these scientists face an array of disincentives. We can do better." Michael Milken

Almost a month ago to the day, I wrote Cancer - All in the Family, about members of our family who have fought various types of the horrific disease. I wrote about hope and courage and triumph -- and heroes. One of them is my 9 year old nephew Alex. And he's about to fight again.

Alex has VHL, Von Hippel-Lindau disease, a rare form of abnormal cell growth that creates tumors throughout the body. When he was 4, a humongous growth was removed from his auditory system and brain. He's profoundly deaf in one ear, among other deficits, but life had gone back to as normal as it can get for the last five years. Until today.

Normal for Alex, by the way, means hearing aides, vigilant monitoring of every childhood illness, an MRI every year and a special eye exam every six months. One of the most common sites for VHL tumors are the eyes. He had his regular eye exam today. And just like that, normal flew out the window. Two growths in the right eye, one in the left. Surgery is scheduled for Wednesday.

A successful outcome means one surgery only. Unsuccessful can mean another. And possibly another. The tumors are located in his peripheral vision, so successful also means his sight won't be compromised. Unsuccessful -- let's not even go there.

Every time I hear Right Wingnuts rail against stem cell research I wonder, how would they feel if it were needed to help a member of their families survive. No matter how frustrated and angry I get, I wouldn't wish that on anyone. But I sure wish they could meet Alex. And the millions like him whose lives depend on lifesaving research -- and the kindness of strangers.

Prayers and good thoughts, as always, welcome.

Cancer Research Fund - VHL Family Alliance Homepage

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Blogger diary of a genetic defect said...

Just to say that I hope all goes well. I agree with the stem cell comment too as harsh as it seems, it is an important method that needs further research and funding.

6:20 AM  

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