A Ticking TimeBomb Called Cancer

I’m in a really bad mood tonight.

As you may know from reading my site, my mother-in-law has had three recent scares with the “C” word. Cancer.

First she had an ovarian cyst that ended up being benign, which was awesome news.

Then just months later, she found out she had a “slow” form of breast cancer. She underwent a biopsy and they took several lymph nodes. After a lumpectomy and a round of radiation therapy, it’s gone. She is suffering from the effects of lymphodema, but the cancer is gone.

Just a couple weeks ago, while being examined by a doctor, she was told she might have Inflammatory Breast Cancer. It ended up being a false alarm, but alarming just the same.

When you hear about cancer there is always stringent medical advice given. “EARLY DETECTION AND TREATMENT ARE THE KEY TO SURVIVAL”. Right? That’s what you’ve heard isn’t it? I know that phrase has been drilled into my head to the point that it is synonymous with the word cancer.

The American Cancer Society says the best thing you can do to protect your health is to “detect cancer early“. Of course, all treatments are different, because they are customized to the person and the type of cancer they are fighting, but early detection and treatment are the key to survival. Okay then. Now for the reason I am pissed.

It has been four months since doctors first diagnosed Channel 2 Consumer Advisor Clark Howard with prostate cancer. Since then, Clark said he has read medical journals and has had more testing done. He just recently made a decision not to have treatment – for now.

Clark wanted to find out how aggressive his cancer is. He went to California for a second opinion, and had a biopsy, and a procedure called a velocity test. The velocity test is a genetic test not routinely approved in the U.S., but done in Europe.

Before I get too far into this post, let me state one thing. I am not arguing that Clark Howard should undergo some medical procedure just because the thought of such treatment has been drilled into our heads. I am not saying that at all…

What I am saying though, is he shouldn’t have spoken out about it. If you read more of the article you learn that he has a “low-grade, low-risk” cancer. A type of cancer that only 25% of prostate cancer patients are diagnosed with.

“I had a very, very low-grade low-risk cancer,” said Clark.

Clark wants to stress active surveillance is not a choice for all prostate cancer patients.

“What I’m able to do because of my circumstances is not applicable for 75 percent of the people who are diagnosed,” Clark said.

Green said it is impossible to know how long Clark could be on active surveillance and that he might never need treatment at all.

I can guarantee you that over 75% of the people who read that article stopped where I did with the first quote. Half of the remaining 25% never got past the first line in the second quote. It’s a fact, we are a sound bite society. With a headline that reads, “Clark Howard Will Not Have Cancer Treatment For Now“, and the two opening paragraphs quoted above, Clark Howard and WSB-TV did more harm than good.

Most of the people who read the headline will have no idea why he isn’t seeking treatment at this time. Most of the people who stopped reading after the second paragraph might think it’s okay if they stop treatment too.

More importantly though, early detection and treatment are the key to survival. Does Clark Howard think this cancer, no matter how slow growing it is, is just going to sit in his prostate gland and wait for treatment? Do you know anyone who would simply sit back and let their cancer grow simply because it’s a “slow one”?

I don’t care what the doctors say, what the statistics say, or what Clark Howard says. Waiting to treat the cancer is just like allowing a time-bomb to tick away because you have plenty of time to diffuse it.

That’s just stupid.

He also said studies show that if an active surveillance patient eventually does need treatment, the prognosis is about the same as if they got treatment right away.

Oh, I guess that makes it alright. Since the studies show the prognosis will be the same no matter what, why bother? It’s not like he’s a unique individual and they would have to customize his treatment plan anyway, right?

Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.