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quicklime
05-18-2011, 05:44 PM
I need a cancer that can affect females, is usually considered treatable with a high but not absolute cure rate, and a relatively fast progression if treatment fails (like within a year). Basically, I will have a girl with a cancer she expects to recover from, but does not, and deteriorates rapidly from, so something slow like most breast cancers won't work.....

Thanks,
Quick

Calla Lily
05-18-2011, 05:54 PM
My co-worker died within a year of lymphoma misdiagnosed as ovarian cancer. She was given the wrong kind of chemo for months, which of course wasn't bringing her numbers down. She fought the insurance for months re: special chemo and to get a visit to an out-of-state cancer treatment center covered. By the time she got a few doses of the chemo and got to the specialist center, it was too late. They told her of the misdiagnosis and started different chemo. She rallied for a bit, but then the cancer invaded her entire system and she passed within 6 weeks.

crunchyblanket
05-18-2011, 06:29 PM
Ovarian cancer usually has a relatively poor prognosis primarly because when it's actually diagnosed, it's normally already at stage III or IV, which will have begun to spread (usually into the bowels, uterus or bladder)

There was a famous case recently in Britain of a 27 year old woman (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jade_Goody)diagnosed with ovarian cancer in August 2008, who died in March 2009 - her cancer had spread and she was diagnosed as terminal in February 2009.

It's not inevitably fatal, even if it does spread, but the outlook is generally poor.

quicklime
05-18-2011, 06:34 PM
crunchy,

she needs a high-cure cancer so her d-bag husband can opt to stop pursuing an affair with the rationalizatioon that he's going to "man up" and stick it out for a year or two to get her through this before dumping her ass....so it's gotta be something like testicular cancer where he can convince himself she'll be fine and he's just gonna stick around long enouigh to help her through things....

calla, sorry to hear; that's awful.

Calla Lily
05-18-2011, 06:40 PM
quicklime, thanks. :) My co-worker was diagnosed at an early stage (for what everyone thought was ovarian cancer). She had a hys and they took a tumor and a couple lymph nodes out--the wrong ones. Because the diagnosis was ladyparts cancer, they took nodes from that area. When they came back clean, everyone--especially her doctor--thought she had a high probablilty of survival, because they caught the cancer so early. If they had taken nodes from her neck or armpits, it's likely that she would've gotten the correct diagnosis sooner and had a better chance.

This specific situation may work for your book, since all concerned were convinced she'd live many years. She was diagnosed at age 51 1/2 and died a month after her 53rd birthday. :(

crunchyblanket
05-18-2011, 06:55 PM
Leukaemia may be a good fit, then; maybe Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. Females tend to have a better prognosis than males. The survival rate is between 25-70 percent, and the prognosis given depends largely on the patient's response to initial treatment (it's also thought that the younger a patient is, the better they generally respond to treatment - ALL is predominately a paediatric cancer but does occur in adults)

With Leukaemia, the major threat to the patient is infection. Perhaps the patient could be responding well to treatment, having been given a good prognosis and seems to be recovering, but is ultimately killed due to a secondary infection? Patients with ALL have abnormally functioning white cells which means that even the flu could potentially kill them.

sheadakota
05-18-2011, 06:59 PM
What about breast cancer?- it can be highly curable if caught in time.

PinkAmy
05-18-2011, 07:00 PM
crunchy,

she needs a high-cure cancer so her d-bag husband can opt to stop pursuing an affair with the rationalizatioon that he's going to "man up" and stick it out for a year or two to get her through this before dumping her ass....so it's gotta be something like testicular cancer where he can convince himself she'll be fine and he's just gonna stick around long enouigh to help her through things....

.

Stage 0 or 1 breast cancer. Stage 0 breast cancer is usually called DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) or less common LCIS (lobular carcinoma in situ). There is virtually a 100% cure rate, most just need surgery, some need radiation if they've opted for a lumpectomy and very few need chemo too.
Stage 1 breast cancer are lumps smaller than 2 cm with no lymph node involvement. When I was diagnosed I was told it had an 80% cure rate with my particular biology but now folks are told upwards of 90%. I had surgery and chemo. I didn't need radiation because I chose mastectomy. I had about 6-8 months of treatment. 4 cycles of a cocktail of 2 chemos, then 12 of another cocktail.

I have to tell you though, sticking around for a year does a woman no favors. I was single at the time, but I had it much easier than many of my friends with husbands. My friends felt like they had to take care of their husband's needs, concerns, and fears. Additionally, women felt their husbands weren't doing enough or weren't responding to them in they way they wanted to respond. Women know. I knew a woman who's husband left after treatment and she wished he had left before. He was never emotionally available for her during chemo. I knew someone who's husband left after her dx and she got sooo much support. I was the only one in our group dx at the same time who didn't think he was a bastard for leaving her though. Cancer effects everyone who loves the sufferer too. I could see the looks in the eyes of my loved ones, feeling so helpless to see me so sick. I was glad it was me and not one of them. Your guy is going to have his own issues about her illness and IMHO as sufferers of cancer we have to be sensitive to others. We don't have to take care of them, but it's really not all about us.

Maryn
05-18-2011, 07:27 PM
Excellent post, Amy. (Dang it, why do I always type 'Any'?) Any life-threatening illness really changes the dynamic of a couple. We were lucky our change was positive, but we know of plenty of people who seemed okay before the cancer or other health problem, but were not okay during the crisis period or after.

I'm not a medical professional, but in my experience, I'm unsure leukemia is going to work. If a leukemia patient is doing well, she's producing healthy blood cells, including white cells. If she's not doing well, she'd be taking extraordinary precautions against infection, living in an unnaturally clean environment and limiting exposure to bacteria in every way. (I recall being warned against library books, for instance.) If some infection kills her, it'll be not the rapid deterioration the OP wants but really fast, like a couple of days.

Maryn, who knows we were lucky

quicklime
05-18-2011, 07:39 PM
I had surgery and chemo. I didn't need radiation because I chose mastectomy. I had about 6-8 months of treatment. 4 cycles of a cocktail of 2 chemos, then 12 of another cocktail.

I have to tell you though, sticking around for a year does a woman no favors. I was single at the time, but I had it much easier than many of my friends with husbands. My friends felt like they had to take care of their husband's needs, concerns, and fears. ...


Amy,

1. thanks for sharing; I forgot completely that you'd had cancer.

2. as I understand it, breast cancer is often fairly slow now--because of surgery and the wealth of at least "semi-effective" chemotherapies and the general rate of spread, the Dr. I was shadowing for 2 weeks at the UW actually said breast cancer treatment was edging into being a chronic condition.....it took most women many years to die, many of the older ones in fact were diagnosed sooner and treated longer, so they were often dying of other complications of aging while still holding the cancer at bay, as it were....

3. I agree about the "no favors", but he's less the martyr in real life than in his imagination. Somewhere in his head he's doing a brave and wonderful thing helping her through this "rough patch" before cutting her loose. The guy really isn't all that nice, and would probably benefit from a lot of sessions on your therapist couch. But like most shitheels (and we all know some), he's certain in his mind that he's doing the right thing.

Debbie V
05-18-2011, 07:43 PM
I contacted two oncology nurses for my book. The mom had a breast cancer treated some time ago. Unbeknown to anyone it had metastasized. It appeared in her brain aggressively, treatment for it there (radiation) failed and she died about a month later.

Both nurses were very happy to help me get it right. One even reviewed the manuscript after I'd made her suggested corrections. Try making some phone calls to your local hospital.

quicklime
05-18-2011, 07:49 PM
hmmm, after maryn's comments too, perhaps a bit more context:

The story is about the guy, who is not a horrible guy, but like most people, he is selfish and prone to rationalizations. Having married his high school sweetheart, he hits an eventual midlife crisis as they drift apart, and he comes to regret a lack of experiences outside the woman, who was his first love, the girl he lost his virginity to, etc.

Every relationship is a tradeoff, and all of us are, at times, inclined to be selfish about what we gave up--he doesn't recognize it as a midlife crisis, and maybe it isn't, but he becomes obsessed with the notion he needs to know what he missed and was cheated out of by skipping the usual high school and college fuckaree, so he decides to find a girl for a fling, convincing himself it would be a one-time thing and that he just "needs to know". And in fairly short order, he begins to cultivate a relationship he intends to turn into a one-nighter.

While he's doing this, the wife learns she has cancer, and when she tells him, he takes the bits he wants to hear, like high cure rate, and reluctantly decides to "stick it out" until she's cured and he can get on with his life...sort of a "why does all the bad stuff happen to me?" thing (again, he's more than a little self-absorbed).

I need it to be a cancer with a high cure rate, so he isn't resigned to holding her hand till she dies, just to the notion he's going to "take care of her for a few months until this mess is over", but it also needs to be serious enough he needs to stay; having a skin biopsy and negative results in a week, for example, wouldn't be enough to make him stick around. And, in the end, she needs to actually get worse, but not over a five or ten year timeframe....


hope that helps flesh out the rationale for my parameters....

PinkAmy
05-18-2011, 07:53 PM
Amy,

1. thanks for sharing; I forgot completely that you'd had cancer.

2. as I understand it, breast cancer is often fairly slow now--because of surgery and the wealth of at least "semi-effective" chemotherapies and the general rate of spread, the Dr. I was shadowing for 2 weeks at the UW actually said breast cancer treatment was edging into being a chronic condition.....it took most women many years to die, many of the older ones in fact were diagnosed sooner and treated longer, so they were often dying of other complications of aging while still holding the cancer at bay, as it were....

You are correct. the stage and biology of the cancer determine how long it takes to die. I knew someone who was dead within a year, and someone who died 15 years later. They are talking about advanced bc as a chronic disease. Bc i being found early, which is another reason for longevity. When there is no evidence of disease (NED) people are considered cancer free. It's not called remission with breast cancer. When diagnosed they talk about percentages of people that live more than five years. If you want, I can tell you as much as you need to know about breast cancer. I've read everything, been to conferences, I can spout the info in my sleep.

3. I agree about the "no favors", but he's less the martyr in real life than in his imagination. Somewhere in his head he's doing a brave and wonderful thing helping her through this "rough patch" before cutting her loose. The guy really isn't all that nice, and would probably benefit from a lot of sessions on your therapist couch. But like most shitheels (and we all know some), he's certain in his mind that he's doing the right thing.
I had a therapist once tell me: The road to hell is paved with good intentions. In your character's favor, at least he is trying to do what he thinks is the right thing...

The treatment for leukemia is much longer than for breast cancer, it can be several years or even longer and like Maryn said, sometimes patients die from infections when their blood counts drop after chemo (they're supposed to drop some 3 days after treatment and that lasts about 5 days, but if they drop too much it's dangerous). It's called neutropenia and there are some treatments for the blood counts,

hester
05-18-2011, 08:25 PM
Hi quicklime-

First off, hugs to all the survivors and to those who've known people who've passed from cancer...

In terms of the question, I was wondering about cervical cancer-it has a very high cure rate if it's detected early (hence universal pap smears) but it can be a killer if it's missed. Eva Peron died of it, and the wife of my husband's close friend died from it a few years ago...

lenore_x
05-18-2011, 08:48 PM
I was going to say cervical cancer too. Usually caused by human papillomavirus, which she could have acquired from her husband sleeping around...? Drama!

shaldna
05-18-2011, 10:06 PM
All cancers can progress at different rates. Those female specific ones with the highest survial rates are breast and cervical. Both can be detected early, breast through self screening, and cervical through smears.

quicklime
05-18-2011, 10:37 PM
doesn't need to be female-specific, just can't be male-specific. A heartbreaking story about a woman dying of prostate cancer, for example, is likely to elicit a few snickers, but not much else...

Drachen Jager
05-18-2011, 10:51 PM
Skin cancer should fit the bill. As long as it's diagnosed early the prognosis is very good, but as with all cancers it can turn nasty.

shaldna
05-18-2011, 11:14 PM
skin cancer is awful, and the prognosis for it is pretty dire.

My grandfather died of lung and throat cancer, which, once it took hold, took him from being fit and healthy to dead in less than three months.

I know a woman who died of breast cancer and who was active and fit and healthy until a week before she died. She was out playing tennis with her friends 10 days before she died.

Any cancer can take a sudden turn for the worse.

Drachen Jager
05-19-2011, 12:49 AM
Shaldna, the prognosis is not dire for skin cancer. It depends entirely on how far the tumour has developed, doctors treat thousands of minor melanomas a year with nothing more than a quick surgery and a bandage.

The 5 year survival rate for melanoma in the United States is 91% That is one of the highest if not the highest survival rate.

lac582
05-19-2011, 07:15 AM
I will start this off by saying I am not a cancer expert AT ALL - but maybe your best bet is something that seems highly isolated, i.e. if they can 'get it all' in one surgery they think the prognosis is excellent, but then it turns out it metastasized? Like perhaps a tumor in the eye that ends up spreading to the brain?

TerzaRima
05-19-2011, 07:30 AM
I need it to be a cancer with a high cure rate, so he isn't resigned to holding her hand till she dies, just to the notion he's going to "take care of her for a few months until this mess is over", but it also needs to be serious enough he needs to stay;

How old is the wife? Most kinds of Hodgkin's lymphoma are highly curable, but I believe that's true only in young to early middle aged adults.

shaldna
05-19-2011, 01:51 PM
Shaldna, the prognosis is not dire for skin cancer. It depends entirely on how far the tumour has developed, doctors treat thousands of minor melanomas a year with nothing more than a quick surgery and a bandage.

And how early it's caught. Sorry, I should have clarified.

Skin cancer, when caught early, is easily treatable and has an amazing survival rate, especially compared to other cancers.

However, that's dependant on people catching it on time. A lot of people don't, either they don't know what they are looking for, or they put it off. When you stare at a mole everyday it can be hard to notice if it's changed shape or size.

Once it's in an advanced stage, it's pretty awful.

crunchyblanket
05-19-2011, 02:48 PM
And how early it's caught. Sorry, I should have clarified.

Skin cancer, when caught early, is easily treatable and has an amazing survival rate, especially compared to other cancers.

However, that's dependant on people catching it on time. A lot of people don't, either they don't know what they are looking for, or they put it off. When you stare at a mole everyday it can be hard to notice if it's changed shape or size.

Once it's in an advanced stage, it's pretty awful.


It depends a lot on the type too; basal cell carcinoma is less likely to spread that malignant melanoma. Once skin cancer spreads, the prognosis is much poorer. BCC also has a high relapse rate, so while the initial cancer isn't considered among the most dangerous, if it isn't caught it can be a nasty disease indeed.

shaldna
05-19-2011, 03:13 PM
It depends a lot on the type too; basal cell carcinoma is less likely to spread that malignant melanoma. Once skin cancer spreads, the prognosis is much poorer. BCC also has a high relapse rate, so while the initial cancer isn't considered among the most dangerous, if it isn't caught it can be a nasty disease indeed.

Hubby is currently having a series of checks and tests done because of changes in his moles - he literally has hundreds of them and it's a big job keeping an eye on them all. He's in a high risk category, so it's very important to note all changes and any new ones which appear.

Paul Eddington, who was a very popular actor in the 70's and 80's here,died of skin cancer in 95. he gave a very frank interview about it before he died, which I think helped to raise awareness of it

http://hub.tv-ark.org.uk/images/miscellaneous/images/bbc/facetoface1995-pauleddingto.jpg

More recently Jade Goody, a reality TV star in the UK, died of cervical cancer. Her whole batter with it was a very public one, and it inspired a lot of young women to go for their smears. Goody said in an interview that part of the reason it wasn't caught sooner was because she didn't realise the importance of smears and wishes she'd been better informed. She said of them, 'I'm not stupid. If I'd have known then I would have gone.'