Cancer is a Jerk

My brother and I in the good ol' 70's.

My brother and I in the good ol’ 70’s.

I remember the day my Mom called me to tell me that my brother had been diagnosed with colon cancer. It was 2006, and I was at work when she told me. I remember feeling numb and in shock. “How can a 36-year-old get colon cancer?” I thought that stuff happened when you were much older. I was told you only start to get screenings for that after the age of 50.

And so began a roller coaster year of good news/bad news/good news. For anyone (and this will be most people I think) who has ever had a close relative with cancer, you know what I mean.

At one point doctors found a tumor, which they deemed inoperable. It’s words like that that make your heart stop. But not giving up hope, a team of doctors got together to review his case, and came up with a plan to try and remove the tumor. It was risky, and there was no guarantee, but they were going to operate anyway.

I’m glad they had that conference, because they did indeed remove the entire tumor, and my brother is alive and well today.

A couple years after my brother was diagnosed my mom called again, except this time she sounded more upset than when she told me about my brother. My childhood friend (and my brother’s classmate) Lorna was also diagnosed with colon cancer, except her diagnosis was much more severe than my brother’s. By the time she had any symptoms, the cancer had already spread to her lymph nodes and liver.

Lorna up until that point was thriving in life. She had a longtime boyfriend, dogs she loved, and was a surgical nurse. She was also one of the kindest people I’ve ever met in my life.

Lorna lost her battle with the disease in 2009. To this day it’s still the toughest loss I’ve ever had in my life. I saw her a week before she passed in the hospital, and I replay that day over in my head all the time. Could I have said something more to comfort her? Did I say all I needed to say to know how much she was loved? I still feel incredible guilt that I couldn’t do more or say more.

Cancer is a jerk!

I think CANCER is that one word that instills the most fear in humans. I mean, how many times have you have symptoms of something and all you think is, “Oh my God could it be cancer?” I see a lot of you raising your hands. Word to the wise: never Google your symptoms. 🙂

It gives me great comfort then, that on the great schoolyard of life, there is a warrior trying to defend us from that mean bully called cancer.

The Stowers Institute

The Stowers Institute for Medical Research was established in 1994 by the late Jim Stowers Jr., the founder of American Century Investments, and his wife Virginia Stowers. Through the generosity of American Century Investments’ founder, more than 40% of the firm’s profits are distributed to the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in a program called Profits with a Purpose.

American Century Investments also sponsors a celebrity golf tournament, which is happening this week in Lake Tahoe, where part of the proceeds will go to The Stowers Institute.

In a world where cancer is still a terrifying diagnosis, it really makes me happy to know there is a state of the art facility where brilliant minds have come together to try and eradicate this terrible disease.

To see what the Stowers Institute is all about, watch this inspiring video.


This post was created in partnership with American Century Investments. I have received compensation for this post. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Tonya is a video editor and writer living in Los Angeles who enjoys beach volleyball and running. Check out her sister site Budget and the Beach.
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  1. NZ Muse says:

    None of my loved ones have had cancer – tuoch wood- but many people I’m close to have had their loved ones fight the right. I get so upset whenever I hear of a new instance.

  2. I am sorry for your loss and your experience with Cancer….it’s scary realising how soon it can hit.

  3. debt debs says:

    I’m sorry about your friend and glad your brother is okay. Would love to see a cure for all cancer in my lifetime. Lost my aunt to Ovarian cancer. 2 Grandparents to lung cancer (but they were smokers). What breaks my heart is the children having to face this horrible illness.

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