back to top

Lost Children Of The Cancer War

Brutalities of the war in Syria were revealed as pictures circulated recently of children convulsing for last breaths while parents grasped onto all that was left. These haunting images disturbed my soul with recollections of the times my arms were wrapped tightly around the broken body of a child who was suffering from toxic warfare. Our Matthew was drafted into the war against cancer at a mere two months old, the “fight of his life” began closely to his arrival into this world. Cancer is a disease no longer just hunting the older members of our society but equally preying upon all people of all ages, disrupting nearly every family in our country. By 2018 an estimated 1.6 million Americans will be newly recruited into this medical war with the words, “You have Cancer.” This group of cancer warriors will include; pregnant mothers, young fathers, celebrities, politicians, entrepreneurs, and children…lots and lots of children all with no promise of a safe return because when at war life becomes a privilege and no longer a right. My child fought like no man should…then he battled some more. Despite my hero’s magnificent fight there also was a great amount of suffering, his death was a brutal demise for any man, woman, or child to face. Matthew was sent to cancer frontline armed like modern day terrorist rather than a skilled Green Beret. My sons marching orders included a few hopeful prayers and massive amounts of toxic chemotherapy bombs released into every part of his body. Eventually his “chemo cure”, a standard weapon of choice in America’s battle against cancer, obliterated his little body. What was left standing at Matthew’s time of death was his cancer. After nearly a three-year cancer battle my child would die with the same cancer foe he was born with. Matthew’s cancer fight was so traumatic that as his caregiver I experienced horrific moments un-natural to the life of a parent. People who are subjected to traumatic cancer events can be left with what I call, Post Traumatic Cancer Disorder (PTCD). I may not be dodging for cover at the mention chemotherapy but peaceful sleep is a missed pleasure. My nightly slumber is harassed with thoughts of how I did not protect Matthew…. not just from cancer but from cancer treatment. Other members of my family also endure some form of PTCD, My husband would feel anxious with the sound of his ringing phone long after Matthew’s battle was over and to this day our youngest daughter fears dying because dying happened to her brother. Another real part to this “American Horror Story” is not just that children are dying from cancer but children diagnosed with cancer will experience a tremendous amount of suffering. Thus far dying is an inevitable part of the human experience but suffering should never be a part of any experience. Suffering is also what mankind has continuously been able to change. Our cancer problem is complex and multifaceted. Complicated diseases like cancer require devoted forward thinkers who will replace hyped-up Cancer Moonshots with Battle Initiatives. America needs to get back on a the fast track to a cancer cure so I created a list titled; Three solutions to move the war against cancer into the 20th Century 1.Invest research into the causes of cancer. Very little money is allocated into studying cancer causes, the government and medical community insinuate the primary causes of cancer are random chance and bad luck. Random chance is inept at explaining cancer clusters and it’s hard to conceive how the rate of bad luck in America is on the rise. Places like Napa Valley and Marin county are currently enduring an unexplainable surge of “bad luck”, pediatric cancer rates have rose in these counties by 69 and 58 percent. That frightening statistic qualifies wine country as one of the unluckiest counties in the whole state of California. History has proven that most cancer’s do have a cause just Google the Radium Girls, Chimney Sweep Cancer, and the 9/11 disaster that left 3,700 survivors and first responders diagnosed with cancer. History has also proven that our government is not interested in protecting the people of America from cancer. An alarming chapter in the book Emperor of Malady, talks about how the Tobacco industry hid behind the government for quite some denying tobacco smoke caused lung cancer. Thankfully a group of persistent doctors insisted on exposing the truth. A Cancer Moonshot would have been real impressive if Joe Biden would have mentioned a plan to protect our heroes who serve our country from cancer risks. Firefighters and military personnel like his son Beau have an increased cancer risks due to occupation hazards like the toxic open-air burn pits Beau was exposed to. Consumers need to work towards reducing the “Cancer Footprint” in our bodies. Currently there are 82,000 synthetic chemicals in the foods we eat, toys our children play with, in products we use, and the air we breathe. Most of these chemicals were never tested for safety because responsibility to prove a product is unsafe falls on the consumer. Research already shows that many foods and products we consume expose us to harmful chemicals yet nothing is done to force companies into creating greener products for consumption. Other countries have been successful in getting American based businesses to clean up their products by creating effective legislation that forces the use of safer ingredients. For example, M&M's chocolate candies must use natural colorings in their products sold overseas but the same M&M’s being sold to Americans will contain harmful synthetic dyes. It’s just not just our candy but other foods you might think are healthy come slathered in pesticides and harmful chemicals. The World Health Organization classified processed meats such as bacon, hotdogs, and lunch meat as a group one carcinogen meaning feeding your child a sandwich using deli meat has the same increased cancer risk as tobacco smoking and asbestos exposure. And the real conspiracy theory is Cancer cells really love sugar, absorbing sugar 10- 12 times the rate of healthy cells. This fact became painfully real when Matthew’s oncologists were trying to grow his leukemia cells in the lab. To get these cancer cells to grow they needed to feed them certain types of enzymes but one crucial ingredient needed to grow cancer was sugar. Reducing sugar intake will result in hungry unstable cancer cells which can do a body some good. 2.Restructure the War on Cancer “We the People” have never been in more need of a government invested into health care than today. Life expectancy has dropped for the first time in decades and our nation is sicker in more ways than we can track. Infant mortality rates in America are high especially in comparison to other First world counter parts who spend far less money on their nations health care. Childhood diabetes rates have increased every year along with birth defects, autism, and asthma. Infertility among couples is rampant with US fertility rates at the lowest point since record keeping began more than a century ago. The future of America cannot afford to cut funds to health care or medical research. What should be cut is $25 billion to build a wall because it is the American people running to Mexico for affordable medical treatment. Near the border there are cancer clinics that have successfully used alternative therapies to treat certain late stage cancers. These clinics utilize integrative medicine programs that combine traditional and holistic medical treatments. Another focus should be breaking up the monopolized medical market. Cancer treatment in America has been linked to price gouging while patients suffer from drug shortages and lack of medical options. Lack of competition on the medical industry has left only three standard forms of cancer treatment; surgical removal, chemotherapy, and radiation. All have been on the market since the 1950’s and are as outdated as starting a fire with a pair of sticks. Radiation was discovered long ago to also cause every form of cancer known to man while chemotherapy also causes cancer. Chemotherapy is so toxic that is causes certain cancer cells to mutate into a Super cancer that is chemotherapy resistant. These dated forms of cancer treatment do bring in billions of dollars to pharmaceutical companies while only providing mediocre cure rates. 3.Get Political This one is easy and it falls back on the people. We need to not just be political activists on-election day. Make your vote count all year long by watching your local member of congress like you watch your stocks. Just like we expect a return on an invested dollar we should be getting returns out of our invested vote. I know that cancer war jargon can offend sensitive ears and pictures of children suffering can bother delicate eyes but I can guarantee my Matthew’s battle was no cancer voyage. My son went to war and has never been seen again. His battle did not take place in the Appalachian Mountains but in a pediatric oncology unit that looked like a military infirmary of warrior children. I am not opposed to anyone calling their experience with cancer a journey but my son’s battle with cancer was war and it still is. “In peace, sons bury their fathers. In war, fathers bury their sons.” Herodotus

Posted on
Aimee Grijalva
This post was created by a member of BuzzFeed Community, where anyone can post awesome lists and creations. Learn more or post your buzz!