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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Oh, This Drug "Might" Cause Cancer

I may have written about this before because it's something that I'm constantly aware of. We've all seen the pharma commercials that tout how great a new drug is at healing a specific condition and then the legal voice over quickly states that the drug may cause certain life threatening issues like cancer and oh yeah it might kill you--but it's really great and will totally get rid of that pesky hair on your chin! Ross and I used to laugh about this several years ago because it seems so crazy that these drugs are supposed to heal one condition and yet can cause another, but now it's not as funny...it's kinda scary!

I guess it's because I'm constantly searching for a reason of why this happened to me and if perhaps I unknowingly took another drug that somehow lowered my immune system and allowed those cancer cells to take over my body. Yet I know I haven't. I was a healthy baby, child, teen and young adult. I've never taken a prescription drug for any other disease prior to my diagnosis so I know that's not the case. But these commercials still affect me (ironic since I'm in the marketing/advertising business myself and should be immune to this), because not only do they say certain drugs can affect your immune system and cause cancer, they actually state that certain drugs can cause lymphoma! Which makes sense because lymphoma is a blood cancer, and when one's immune system is affected, it makes it easier for some cells to become mutant, malignant, and cancerous. So it makes me think...and makes me change the channel as soon as I see an ad that mentions the possibility of cancer.

However, I always tell myself afterwards...if I did take one of those drugs in the past and ended up with lymphoma now, wouldn't I just be more pissed off? Definitely. Because I would know what caused it and the fact that (maybe) it could have been avoided. So I guess it's better off not knowing what caused it, because it's here and I have to deal with it. And as much as I want to, I can't go back in time.

Oh, and it's not just the cancer causing drug commercials that rattle me now. Now, my ear is much more attuned to commercials that mention how certain drugs--namely birth control--can cause blood clots. Yea me! This is nothing new, I always knew that birth control can cause blood clots, especially if you are a smoker, yet it never worried me. However, now my doctors say I can't take birth control because statistically speaking I'm now prone to having blood clots--although it would be very rare since I'm on blood thinners. As a double whammy there are a few birth control commercials that say the drugs are "not for women with certain cancers" (that would be me) and are "known to cause blood clots" (yep, me again). So it's hard. I'm just trying to watch my favorite Real Housewives show and a commercial may come on that mentions cancer and blood clots in one fail swoop and I'm suddenly crying. It's a hot mess and I'm sure it will be a long time before this kind of thing doesn't bother me. In the meantime I wish there was a way I could block these ads from showing on my TV!

I do feel alone in these instances because I don't know anyone who has dealt with the exact same health issues as me...each cancer patient has their own unique issues and I'm sure there are people out there with much worse circumstances...but it's easy to fall into a pool of sadness about the hand I was dealt. Especially since some things have been so unexpected...not that anyone really knows what to expect, but often we like to think we have it all planned out--I certainly did. This week I watched a special where Diane Sawyer interviewed Gabrielle Giffords and I watched the amazing recovery she's made since being shot in the head. Unimaginable. I see in her what some people may see in me and it's so inspiring that someone could fight so hard and defy the odds. And it helps me feel better, stronger, and keep my eye on the prize of a full, complete remission and a long, happy, healthy life.

Diane said something that really spoke to me. She said that Gabby Gifford's story was one of the "courage you bring when the life you live is not the one you plan." Amen to that. Because at the end of the day, that's what it's about.