by Kendra Syphers
The phone rang three times, ring ring ring, I remember each tone in perfect rhythm. If I had only known that those three rings meant something that would forever change in my life maybe I wouldn’t have answered, I wasn’t ready…
It was a normal fall day, my grandfather and I took our weekly walk to our local park. Walking with my head focused on the ground I began to notice big blotches of red liquid on the pavement. I looked up and there my grandfather was, with streams of blood running from his nose. How did he not notice?
I looked at him, filled with fear, and he just stood there as if he had no idea what I was seeing. He didn’t feel a thing. It was like his face was numb.
I could barely even get any words out,there was that much blood. He reached for his face, He only noticed what I had seen when his hand returned back fully red with blood. He fainted.
People came rushing in, circling us so I could no longer see the sky above us. The last thing I remember was the ambulance racing away with my once perfectly healthy grandfather. That was the day that I knew things would never be the same.
At the hospital, they called it a fluke. The doctors sat us down saying their first thought was cancer, but he was perfectly clear, his red and white blood cell count was perfectly normal. They were sure it was something called thrombocytopenia, a condition that causes a low blood platelet count which means his blood was unable to clot. Everyone in the room wasn’t really relieved, we all knew that wasn’t it.
Three months had passed and so had another 30 nose bleeds. He was constantly tired. Our walks had to stop because he just couldn’t make it through walking that long. There was something wrong. We brought him in again.
They tested and tested. We sat in the waiting room for hours hoping they would come out of those big glass doors with a diagnosis we could all live with. They finally released him, and told us they would give us a call when they get his results in about a week. A week and three days passed. Not one of us had been even an inch from our phones all week. We hoped it was just a random fluke, but we knew it wasn’t.
The call came, ring, ring, ring, I picked it up. My mom told me he had been diagnosed with stage two leukemia. They were sure of it this time, his symptoms fit and it made sense. In a way we were all a bit relieved. Knowing what he had was a lot better than wondering.
He started chemo right after he was diagnosed, but we saw no improvements. The cancer was spreading a lot faster than anyone expected.Beep,beep, beep that was the sound I would hear every time his heart rate would get slower than it should. This happened for days. Nurses would rush in poking hime with needles, taking his heart rate and somehow getting the machine to stop freaking out. They did all they could, but nothing was helping. The cancer took his body over. His heart stopped beating on June 25th 2012.
Leukemia is one of the most common types of cancer today Approximately 1.5 percent of men and women will be diagnosed with leukemia at some point during their lifetime, based on 2010-2012 data.( cancer.gov)
Leukemia starts in the tissue that forms blood and progresses very quickly through the body. These cancerous cells don’t die when they should, making it harder for normal white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets to function.
Scientists are working hard to find a cure but without proper funding for medical trials it is harder to see a clear end to this awful disease. The public needs to be more aware of what a huge epidemic cancer really is. We need to do more research in preventative measures. We all need to educate ourselves to help move this process along to help save the ones we love. Sign up to be a supporter of the American Cancer Society and help researchers stop cancer from growing any bigger than is already is.
Go to http://www.cancer.org/cancer/index to find more information.
Check out the personal column “Malpractice is real” by Elora Philbrick concerning medical malpractice. It shows her personal perspective on malpractice with appendicitis.