Monday, 20 July 2009

Cancer: Not The Crab

I mentioned in my previous post of bad times about cancer in the family. So, for those who are interested, here’s the full story.

Near the end of last year, my grandma’s sister (my great-aunt) was pretty sick. She had a bunch of tests done and her doctor said she had some condition that could potentially be a precursor to leukaemia. She had been undergoing treatment for that.

Now, though, my grandmother had told us that my great-aunt HAS cancer. I need to do some research to find the name and implications, but it’s essentially the opposite of Leukaemia – in that, her body is not producing white blood cells.

She can’t have a bone marrow transplant because her doctor said point-blank, it would kill her.

She’s currently having blood transfusions to keep her going. However, her doctor said she can have twenty of these – after 20 transfusions, they will be doing more harm than good to her body and would slowly kill her over time anyway.

So far in her treatment, she has had 8. Next month she has another 2. That leaves 10 transfusions, which is maybe 5 months if she’s having one every fortnight.

After the transfusions have stopped, there is some drug that she MIGHT be able to take, an injection into the spine. The injections, if she takes them, will eventually render her paralyzed below the waist.

The injections are administered monthly. Each one costs £1,000. And they are NOT covered by the NHS. My great-uncle has already been paying privately for her treatment; he’s now having to put their (super, super nice!) house up for sale now to try to get the money for the injections.

He has a friend in Dubai who owns a company that is the equivalent of Boots (or, I guess, like a Shopper’s Drug Mart in North America?) – that is to say, it deals in pharmaceuticals and prescriptions. He’s going to see if he can get the medication cheaper for them.

But, here’s the stinker. It’s not a guarantee that she’ll be able to take this medication. Even if she does, the cost is exorbitant, and will paralyze her. And they might not work.

If she can’t get them, or they don’t work… well, once the transfusions have stopped, she has six months to live.

Bad times.

Perhaps the saddest part is that she's planning a party in October - a big get-together, so she can have her family all together and see everyone one last time.

And the part that makes ME the saddest, is that my mom isn't coming.

1 comment:

Dot said...

This is the most heart wrenching post. I can't even begin to imagine what you must feel. And your mother not coming to the get together....really I don't know what to say....the only possible thing I can think of is that at least you have a chance to say goodbye and prepare yourself for it. But I don't know if it's ever truly possible to prepare for the death of a loved one. I really hope she comes out of this and the medication works.
Take care <3