Is it Possible to ever cure Cancer?

Let me share my response to that night in the hospital when a group of medical experts told me I’d die within two to three months from metastatic cancer:
No, I won’t. Sorry but I don’t believe that’s true. Let’s get this fluid out of my abdomen and revisit your prognosis.
I’m still here four years later.

Will there ever be a real cure for cancer?

Statistically speaking, the numbers lead nowhere with regards to a panacea cure-all for cancer. Cancer in all of its forms, stages, intensity, aggressiveness, organ, system or body part, metastasis sites or primary tumor size and, genetic mutation, (deep breath) and what our cancer finds delicious to say “nom nom” to like hormones and cortisol to name a couple , are about as different from one person to the next as are the specifics contributing to every human being’s individuality.

Would you guess that may indeed be why a cure seems so out of reach: there’s as many kinds of cancer as the number of people diagnosed with cancer. I am not a specialist of any kind, medical or otherwise. But in the course of research and education there’s no denying that I’m lost in a sea of answers to so many different questions that I’m swimming in an ocean of data, drowning in an eddy of statistics and numerical analysis.

Throw me a lifesaving device or a piece of wood. Wood floats, as do witches, recalling the scene in Monty Python’s Holy Grail, where the medieval idiots guess at what would indicate if a woman were a witch or not. The one on the giant scales looking annoyed and rather silly having been disguised as a witch by the villagers by using a carrot tied to her face representing the nose a witch would have. Some days I feel like her, trying to scream out my innocence in the injustices I face as I’m asked what I may have done differently to not have been diagnosed at stage IV. Village idiots, indeed.

Let me ask this: how do we find a cure for cancer when the contributing factors include everybody’s permutation of lifestyle, environment, stress, genetics, psychosocial situation, economic status, race, nationality, religion, spirituality, etc.? Is the truth with regards to questions like “how long do I have?” found in researching and reading reports and data underlying findings from clinical and other types of studies?

I can’t say that’s possible since the relative weights of each contributing factor changes by person. Factors including not only the type and aggressiveness of the cancer itself, but the historically significant factors adding up to the moment of a human life when the words, “I’m sorry but…” are murmured. Given this set of cumulative influences, the prognosis differs for each individual, albeit sometimes ever so slightly.

Neither diagnosis nor prognosis is meaningful when you ask a doctor. A response to either intensity or time may contain the following phrase: the statistics show X, however, everyone is different. I’ve not heard one answer from an oncology, hematology, or internal medicine practitioner in which that caveat wasn’t kept in a box. I suspect it’s a CYA move to a greater or lesser degree. But I honestly believe they simply do not know, except for baseline statistical analyses with the outliers not plugged into the median mortality numbers.

Some people do not want to know how long they’ve got to live, and there’s nothing wrong with taking the ostrich/ head in the sand or cover your ears and hum “I can’t hear you I can’t hear you!” approach to a potential prognosis. And what does it really matter anyway? Other than the most frightening, or relieving, time comes that we’re told to go home and kiss everyone we love goodbye and to get on the phone to hospice. Perhaps then?

But maybe…

Even in that case each person is so vastly different in every way… lifestyles, genetics, responses to chemicals and radiation, how our immune systems can step up to the task, how damaged we were from the start and before the diagnosis, etc. Further still, the prognosis is even influenced by how one responds to the news. Again we have to weigh our ability to focus on what we can control: our psychological health; our physical health aside from cancer (such as nutrition, exercise, smoking, and drinking); our determination to live and try novel approaches without becoming brainwashed, or standing frozen like a deer in the headlights.

“This isn’t to say we’re not making progress: more people are beating cancer today than ever before. Survival has doubled in the last 40 years. And half of people diagnosed will survive their cancer for more than 10 years, an all-time high.” (Cancer Research, UK, “Why are cancer rates increasing?”
https://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2015/02/04/why-are-cancer-rates-increasing/)

Progress, yes. But what more do we really know today if indeed the rates of diagnosis have reached an all time high? Indeed a cure may be a pie in the sky. Or a pie ready to hit us collectively in the face.

6 thoughts on “Is it Possible to ever cure Cancer?

  1. The “cure cancer” aphorism a misomer and misleading, since we are *born* with cancer cells. Since it’s hard to pinpoint when these cells go rogue, as you mentioned, I believe we need to shift *away* from the “cure” narrative and advocate for more funding for research for better, more humane treatments.

    1. I agree 1000% with you. The cure is a misnomer make no mistake. However to cure each person based on their individual types of cancer and the millions of permutations that caused our bodies to not recognize cancer cells it heretofore killed off with our own immune systems is the key to survival and treating chronic not terminal cancer probably won’t make enough money for research in pharmaceuticals but for the hospitals, cancer centers, and teaching hospitals that tirelessly and for less money work on this very problem. Maybe the arrest of the opioid pushers will bring to light the corruption of such awful people who profit financially on our backs.

  2. Hi Ilene, I lost someone special to me just yesterday to cancer, so reading through your post was a weepy experience for me. I studied environmental science in college and I took a class regarding the environment and our health. It was an eye-opener to say the least. There are so many factors that feed cancer, and some of them we may never know, but I remain hopeful for a cure. I am grateful that cancer was no match for your spirit. Your story resonates with many. By the way, if you write on Medium (and you should because your story can reach more people there–this has been my experience with Medium–and there is some pay for the articles) then I’d like to follow your account there. Let me know your username there? I wish you the best on your journey.

    Another question–do you still have a lot of pain, and how do you treat your pain? I am living with chronic pain and my doctors “don’t do pain” meaning I am on my own. I am having to research “alternative” treatments. Current guinea-piggin myself test market is CBD in a cream to put on the pain area. It helps momentarily but still searching for what will help me the most.
    OK, NOW I’m done commenting—best on your journey.
    Christina

    1. Christina, first I wish you peace in your grief. Anyone lost to cancer s one too many. I believe the journey the living make after the death of someone dear never comes easily, and no amount of words make the time go fast enough to find the day when you’re not feeling those awful pangs of the indescribable when a song or some other reminder brings their memory rushing back. I cannot listen to certain music without immediately recalling memories of my dad. I try not to become tearful when I sing along. But any fear of my own death is in leaving my dear ones behind. Love is the tie that bounds life.

      I’m hopeful to be certain with regards to a curative process and hope that we will find a way to access our own powers of healing through immunotherapy in my lifetime. It’s a strange case when the pharmaceutical companies cannot use a cookie cutter, one size fits most approach to maximize profits. We won’t see it soon enough.

      I will have to get back with you on medium. I believe it is my first and last name so search up Ilene Kaminsky, and I appreciate the advice and the compliment. 😇

      As for pain – I’ve had a palliative oncologist both prior to and since I’ve been with Stanford. Palliative medicine is so greatly misunderstood- I am grateful but I am also using opioid based pain meds as well as meditation and mind body deep work. But I hurt pretty constantly. It doesn’t show but boy it hurts. Bone metastasis is just crunchy painful if you know what I mean. I think it’s deplorable your oncologists don’t look at the whole patient and palliate your pain with integrative medicine, such as ontological massage, acupuncture, medication, and CBD/THC.

      CBD doesn’t work well topically and – opinion only – wastes money I don’t have. Further my palliative oncologist has recommended smoking the oil 3:1 or 2:1 CBD to THC ratio. There are medical marijuana growers who specialize in these types of tinctures. It also helps with my appetite and with sleeping though it makes me a bit goofy, it’s better than most other addictive things we can ingest.

      I wish you peace and much relief and let me know how you’re doing. I’m always happy to share my experiences and opinions but vet it out with professionals who are available wherever you are. I’ll provide what I can by way of what organizations I’ve had luck with as well.

      Much love 💕
      Ilene

  3. Interesting, as always, Ilene. I have to admit that I’m one of those people who doesn’t want to know how long I’ve got to live. Firstly because it would only be a guess on the part of the medical team. And secondly because I’ve never known how long I had to live – even before being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer – and I never let that stop me enjoying my life in the meantime. Death is inevitable. Life, sadly, isn’t… xox

    1. I agree completely. I’m not all that interested in knowing either. Furthermore the statistics are completely different from the reality regarding the mean lifespan from the time of diagnosis and mortality/ end of life. It’s as individual as the cancer itself. There’s too many influential factors such as stress and environment to really understand. The fear of death never weighed me down much, and I find myself interested in what happens to our consciousnesses after our bodies fail but not interested enough to lose my gratitude for the hope of another day of life. My commentary has far more to do with the questions I’ve heard from others, their fears, and their legacies. My legacy, I hope, is to depart our mortal coil with a couple of written documentations/ books reflective of my consciousness while I was here. A way to travel to the future and bring the past forward for as long as people need to read the thoughts of their predecessors. In that my respect for you and your accomplishments exponentially increases as my familiarity with your grace and your talents increases. Our lives will go on and not have been in vain for having the courage to use our voices to yell out drink the past so that others may benefit from our unnecessary and early deaths due to a disease that’s not only on the rise as a statistical result of the illness we both unreasonably suffer from but that we both use as a platform to grip those who can’t find the words to express how they feel and how precious life becomes after the gauntlet drops.

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