Bab's Blog

It's just me, in words.

At least it’s not cancer. . . September 16, 2011

Filed under: Diabetes — babscampbell @ 4:30 am
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Awhile back, my friend George, aka Ninjabetic posted a story related to a co-worker being diagnosed with breast cancer. Here is the link for reference:

You’ll notice, I commented on his post that day.

When I was diagnosed with diabetes, I had two dear friends battling cancer. K has since lost that battle and we miss her very much! T was able to try a new stem cell transplant treatment and is now doing quite well and just received another “all clear” scan. I tell you that to say this. . .at the time that I received my diagnosis, my first reaction was to think of these friends, what they were going through and say, “well, at least I don’t have cancer.”

In March of this year, I WAS diagnosed with cancer; invasive ductile carcinoma of the left breast and axillary lymph nodes. I was surprised to learn some new facts about both diabetes and cancer along this journey and I’ve got to say, I really wonder if that statement holds any truth to it at all for me.  BTW. . If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, or any life threatening disease of that nature. . .please allow yourself to grieve and get a grip on your condition, without discounting it or ignoring it.

I know my two conditions are my own, and this may not be the case with every cancer, or every case of diabetes, but for me. . .I’d take this cancer over diabetes, any day of the week!

Statistically, I am more likely to die of diabetes than from my breast cancer.  People with diabetes often experience low blood glucose levels, and in my case, in the middle of the night. If I were to sleep through one of these episodes and have my blood glucose continue to drop, I simply would not wake up.   I could also end up in a coma from DKA (Diabetic Keto-Acidosis).  This happens when your blood glucose rises so high that your blood becomes acidic. Then, there’s the heart failure, kidney failure, etc.

My cancer responded extremely well to chemotherapy and has crumbled away to the point of being undetectable. 8 treatments later, the Dr. pokes and prods and feels nothing but normal breast tissue now. I will have surgery and radiation in the coming weeks, but, I also expect to hear the phrase, “cancer-free” VERY soon.

My diabetes will last until God chooses to touch me and rebuild my pancreas, or give someone the knowledge to transplant or build an artificial organ.

It’s a strange phenom, but saying the words, “I have cancer”, suddenly escalates you to celebrity status. Suddenly, everyone at church knows who I am. People talk to their friends and refer to me as “this good friend of mine, with cancer. . .” everyone wants to help, be part of your journey and support you in your battle. I can’t tell you how much that helps. The sudden lifting of prayers, cards and letters sent and offering of assistance is what got me through this thus far. However, this didn’t happen with my diabetes announcement. I happily admit, my closest friends and family have asked how I was doing, and wanted updates, but generally, diabetes is invisible and you fight it with your closest allies at hand.

The visibility of cancer changes everything. I’ve not once had a person watch me test my blood sugar in a restaurant and then come over to offer me encouragement. However, one look at my shiny dome and there will be at least one person who will do just that. Total strangers come to the table, offer a hug, share their stories and assure me that I will beat this.

I guess what I’m trying say is. . .until the NFL wears light blue in honor of Diabetes Month in November, PWD will continue to battle their diabetes with their closest friends/family close at hand.  All the testing, basal rates, bolusing, worrying, overnight lows, late afternoon highs and algebraic computations will happen silently for the rest of their lives.

I’ve never felt so loved, so blessed, so surrounded by an army of warriors until I muttered the big “c”, and I’m so grateful.  This will be the year I hold in memory as the year I experienced being cured.  I will take all that strength and march forward until I am cured of diabetes too.  Now, at least, I know how it feels. . .to be cured. . .when it happens next time, I’ll recognize it right away.