March 27, 2007

For Tony ~ Fight On!

FightOn 4.jpgTony Snow's Cancer has returned.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Presidential spokesman Tony Snow's surgery to remove a small growth showed that his cancer has returned, the White House said Tuesday.
Snow, 51, had his colon removed in 2005 and underwent six months of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with colon cancer. A small growth was discovered last year in his lower right pelvic area, and it was removed on Monday. Doctors determined that it was cancerous, and that his cancer had metastized, or spread, to his liver, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

She said Snow is resting comfortably after his surgery and has pledged to aggressively fight the disease with an as-yet-to-be-determined treatment course.

"He said he's going to beat it again," Perino said in an emotional morning briefing with White House reporters. "When I talked to him, he was in very good spirits."

Ahh, nuts! I'm heart-sick hearing of another good person with this damned disease. Back in January of '06 when I announced on this site that I had lung cancer, I received an e-mail from Mr. Snow encouraging me to fight on and have faith. A portion of that letter:
First, enlist as much love and support from friends as you can, and don't be shy. One of the great distinguishing characteristic of Americans is that they always want a chance to do something good. Many are doing good things for you right now, many completely unknown to you. Some people are afraid of admitting to cancer because they worry that others will treat them like freaks. A very few people will; most will rally in wondrous and suprising ways. Give them a chance to help. They'll come through for you.

Second, talk to other cancer patients. They have street cred others don't. For instance, you're probably now noticing twinges and random pains in far-flung parts of your body. This sort of stuff has been going on your entire life, and you have paid no heed. Now, however, the mere threat of cancer has you wondering whether the killer cells have fiendishly relocated to some unusual part of your body -- from your toes to your earlobes, along with every viscera and soft tissue in between. I remember thinking at one point that pressure in my forehead must have been a sure indicator of brain cancer. Instead, I just had sinus congestion. This sort of panic is normal: I don't know a single cancer patient who hasn't experienced it in one way, shape or form. I finally called my internist and informed him that I was going nuts and needed some sort of stuff to calm me down. He prescribed Xanax. I took exactly one -- conversations with doctors and other cancer patients managed to calm my nerves even better than drugs.

Third, learn as much as you can -- ignorance is your enemy -- but don't get too hooked on internet sites. Many of them are idiotic. Better to consult with your MD Anderson trained doc, who can steer you to stuff that might be helpful. Look especially for success stories. You'd be amazed at how far medicine has come in the last 15 years, and how effective the meds are.

Fourth, keep the fighting attitude. A friend of mine -- a survivor of simultaneous lung, breast and armpit lymph cancers -- described sitting in meetings with fellow breast cancer patients. Some just looked defeated, even though each one of them had far less severe cases than she had. Not one of the defeated-looking patients made it. You'll find that it's surprisingly easy to remain combative once you've begun to shuck aside some of the fear. Just think about the people you love and the things you want to do with them in the years ahead. That should be all the inspiration you need. Furthermore, you'll find that your attitude will change (likely for the better) the moment you get into treatment. It's like going from pre-game jitters to the game. Once the game is on, you don't have any choice. You have to play. So play to win.

Fifth: Realize that fear is a complete waste of time, even though it will creep up on you from time to time. Your full-time job now is to get well. Blogs are nice, but living is more fundamental. The most important part of the aforementioned fighting attitude is to set fear aside and get determined about getting well.

Sixth, relish and embrace your faith. I kept a file of what I called "healing verses," many of which had been forwarded through well-wishers. You can find them sprinkled everywhere in the Bible; Psalms and Proverbs are especially rich sources. Prayer is an amazing thing, and the healing power of prayer -- something I always suspected before getting cancer -- is palpable and real. You've seen the responses already on your site: These people are pulling for you, as are hundreds or even thousands who aren't writing. There's no greater honor than having somebody you don't know asking God to help you. Somehow, the word trickles back, and it will make you stronger."

Mr. Snow, I send that right back to you because I know that when faced with additional bad news concerning the self, it is easy to forget what wonderful advice you have given to others.

Mr. Snow, as you think of all the thoughts that will have to go into your fighting back, please take time to remember the sage words that you sent me.

Right now, I'm in full remission, in part because I followed your advice to the letter, in part because I had great docs, great nurses and great faith. Please return the favor and remember that there are many, many good folk out there winging prayers to God in your behalf. Fight the good fight, don't give in and don't look back. Fight back, fight hard and Fight On!

UPDATE: Linked by the Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds. Thanks Dr. Reynolds, and people, please, PLEASE, PLEASE consider sending a check to the American Cancer Society, if we all band together we can beat this damned disease. So much has been learned, so much more can be learned through research!

UPDATE 2: Craig Hildreth M.D., who writes The Cheerful Oncologist (and one heck of a nice guy) has some good information on Breast Cancer and Mrs. Edwards. Include her in your prayers as well.
Dr. Hildreth has this on his blog which I think is priceless:

"Courage and cheerfulness will not only carry you over the rough places in life, but will enable you to bring comfort and help to the weak-hearted and will console you in the sad hours." -Sir William Osler
He also has an update on recurrent colon cancer. This is a must read folks, Dr. Hildreth writes better than any other site on cancer and related subjects.

Posted by GM Roper at March 27, 2007 10:58 AM | TrackBack

Amen, GM. I'll join your prayers and I feel sure Tony Snow is a fighter. I just wish he would go to MD Anderson. They're No. 1 for a reason.

Posted by DRJ at March 27, 2007 12:12 PM

Amen to that. I wish Mr. Snow the best of luck.

Posted by QuickRob at March 27, 2007 12:34 PM

What a beautiful letter Tony Snow wrote to you! He needs to read it now.

I heard the news about Tony Snow's cancer when I got home from work this afternoon. I'll add him to my prayer list, which is growing too long with cancer patients.

Posted by Always On Watch at March 27, 2007 12:43 PM

God Bless you, Tony, and please fight on! We all love you and our prayers go out to you and your family.

BTW, excellent letter from Tony, GM.


Posted by MsUnderestimated at March 27, 2007 12:56 PM

I would like to post the portion of the letter to my own blog. About 10 years ago I had a melanoma and got similar advice. It is great advice. All of our prayers should be with Tony Snow.

Posted by drtaxsacto at March 27, 2007 01:20 PM

Add my hopes and prayers. May the force be with you.

Posted by Flash Gordon at March 27, 2007 04:00 PM

This seems like a nice place to wish the avuncular Tony Snow well and healthy. In my prayers.

Posted by Adam Khan at March 27, 2007 05:39 PM

I remember exactly where I was when I got the news my brother-in-law's cancer had spread to his liver. It seemed like the world just stopped. I've never met Mr Snow but all my prayers are with him today. - Sue

Posted by Desperate Irish Housewife at March 28, 2007 06:48 AM

Praying for Mr. Snow, myself. But with cancer spreading to the liver... I'm flashing back to Walter Payton.

Posted by Harold C. Hutchison at March 28, 2007 06:57 AM

GM, As ALWAYS you do (and say) the right thing. Plaudits to you, Sir.

I do not know Tony Snow, but I have seen him very often on Fox and later as the President's Press Secretary. He seems like a genuine man and a gentleman (in the old and best meaning of that word). He will be in my prayers.

We give to the American Cancer Society, and to many other charities that are worthy. We will continue to do so.

GM, I would ask that you CONTINUE to emplore, hector, ask, demand, exhort the rest of us to pay attention to this awful scourge.....and to many other things you bring to the attention of the rest of us.

My observations are that it is (more often than not) an individual....or a few folks....that make the difference in much of what happens in the world.

Warms regards and real respect.

Posted by Tad at March 28, 2007 08:40 AM

God bless you GM (great initials by the way). I'm linking to this post and will be praying for you, Tony Snow and Elizabeth Edwards - along with all the other people afflicted with life-threatening disease or life challenges.

God bless.

Posted by Gayle Miller at March 28, 2007 09:39 AM

Thanks for sharing that very personal story about Tony Snow. It really shows what kind of person he is that he did that.

Posted by Discerning Texan at March 28, 2007 10:38 AM

I lost my mom to a reccurrence of her cancer a few years back.

It was strange to find Elizabeth Edwards just register as a blip, but the report of Tony's reccurrence hit me like a ton of bricks.

maybe its revealing of my political leanings, but I'd like to think it is more about a feeling of connection. Someone you see all the time.

all my hope goes out to Tony, and Elizabeth Edwards.


Posted by mark at March 28, 2007 01:15 PM

I received a call Monday from the wife of a friend. Now, I'm getting ready to leave for the funeral home to tell her how sorry that I am about her husband's death--from cancer. I was with him less than two months ago, when he had just gotten back from the hospital for a biopsy. I kept meaning to call him to see how he was doing, but I thought that there would be plenty of time and that he would recover. This stuff is serious. I'm still in shock about how fast he died, and I'm very sad that I didn't take a moment from my schedule to give him encouragement. I kept meaning to, but instead I learned an unhappy lesson about supporting friends who are sick. I hope others who read this will take the time to make calls to sick friends rather than put it off.

Posted by Woody at March 28, 2007 03:33 PM

Lost my ex to cancer back in 2003 (the URL I posted is to a memorial page I set up for her). While she was going out, I talked a lot to a biochemist friend, whose main work is researching chemo and antiviral drugs. He said just what Tony did: he is a scientist, cannot explain why, but if a person's attitude is upbeat and aggressive toward the cancer, they have a much better chance of surviving. He had no idea why, or how a mental attitude could affect things at the cellular level, but had seen enough to be convinced it was a big factor. His one guess was that the immune system plays a role in cancer-fighting, and likely an upbeat person's immune system is more powerful than a depressed person's system is, but even that's a guess.

He was inclined to put a lot of weight on the immune system as a protector. We talk of someone "getting" cancer, but the truth is we all have cancer. We're trillions of dividing cells, and some are going to be flawed in the direction of too rapid division. The protections are that a cancer cell (and every case starts with a single cell) must have (if I remember correctly) seven genetic mistakes. (One, for example, is "immortality." Ordinary cells and their progeny die off after so many divisions, approximately. That's why the elderly are frail. If a potential cancer cell doesn't have that, it dies off before it can form a noticeable tumor. But the cell with those mutations must also escape the immune system's search for cells that "aren't quite right" or "aren't quite me." If the immune system spots and kills them all, you could swim in agent orange daily and never "get cancer."

Posted by Dave Hardy at March 28, 2007 08:20 PM

GM, you are aware that I lost my mother and my step mother to this terrible disease and you know that when I started in nursing I started on an oncology unit.

You are aware, because you helped edit it, that I recently sent a letter to my neighbors soliciting donations to the ACS. I am the neighborhood coordinator, a task I took on in honor of the two mothers I lost to cancer.

I am pleased to announce that my neighbors have donated $250.00 which was 5 times the goal (and for a block of 11 houses, that isn't too bad).

All I need do now is add mine and send it in.

Prayers out to Elizabeth Edwards and Tony Snow. May God be with them both.

Posted by Big Dog at March 30, 2007 08:54 PM

GM, you are an outstanding example of what attitude can do towards healing. Mr. Snow knows it also, and it was a perfect gesture to remind him of it.

Our prayers are with him and Mrs. Edwards and all of those suffering, whether from cancer or some other illness.

Keeping a great attitude (and I know this from experience) will get you through the rough patches and shows class.

Never stop fighting.

Posted by kender at March 30, 2007 11:39 PM

Linked to you. Keep fighting!

Posted by Jeremayakovka at March 31, 2007 12:21 PM

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