Signals Blog

According to the World Health Organization, there were 8.2 million cancer related deaths in 2012 so by my calculations, that’s over 22,000 each day. Cancer has been on my mind a lot this week, and not just because yesterday was #WorldCancerDay.

On February 1st, the wife of a friend passed away from leukaemia. She had been battling the disease with “incredible drive and tenacity,” writes her husband, for 2 ½ years. She was in her 40s and leaves behind a devoted husband and two loving sons.

Here are some words, posted by her husband on Facebook, that he believes she would have written to her friends and family if she’d been able:

I found out last Tuesday that the leukaemia is back once again, but this time, there are no more treatment options. I was so close again. Twice I missed out on a stem cell transplant and now a new trial drug with promise. Time has caught up with me. I have fought so hard. I beat the disease once. I was paralyzed trying to beat it a second time. I held it off and learned how to walk again. I lived twice as long as the doctors predicted.

But now it’s back. I am tired and I just want to be with my boys and husband. One of my biggest fears was that they would not be prepared for life without me. I hope that the extra time I had, no matter how painful, helped them prepare a little more.

I am so proud of my sons. They are just such good kids. And I know they will become amazing men. All I want to do is hug them, stroke their hair and talk about how their day went. I love them and my husband so much and they returned it to me every day. It pains me deeply that I won’t be with them physically soon, but I will always be around my boys. My kind of love will never die.

I have had a great, full and adventurous life. From my birthplace to Toronto to London, I’ve lived. From the Caribbean to Greece and Italy to Madagascar, I’ve traveled. And through three colleges, one university, some great jobs and my love for reading, I’ve learned.

All of you, my friends and family, helped me enjoy my life even in the toughest of times. You encouraged, you laughed, you cried, you trusted, you shared. We walked, we cooked, we played, we traveled, we experienced. Thank you for that.

The very touching “goodbye” continues for a few more paragraphs.

Too many of us can relate to losing a loved one or friend to cancer. I really wanted stem cells to cure her and it is heart breaking that they didn’t. Because of stem cells and cell therapies, someone else’s story will have a different, happy ending.

To finish on an encouraging note, Dr. Jim Olson is doing fascinating work to battle cancer, including developing anti-cancer compounds produced by engineered molecules that will attack cancerous cells while leaving healthy cells untouched. These “optides” are expected to be an improvement over traditional chemotherapies, while being “less expensive and more powerful than other next-generation techniques.”



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Stacey Johnson

Stacey Johnson

For almost 20 years, Stacey has been providing strategic communications counsel to government, corporate, technology and health organizations. Prior to that, Stacey was at the CTV Television Network, first as a researcher, then as a story producer for “Goldhawk Fights Back,” a special ombudsman segment that aired weekly on the National News and Canada AM. Before joining CCRM as the Director, Communications and Marketing, Stacey was the Director of Communications for the Canadian Arthritis Network. Stacey is editor of Signals. You can follow Stacey on Twitter @msstaceyerin.