Thursday, May 7, 2009

So who are these lovely ladies?

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They sure are cute, aren't they? No, I'm not in the picture, but if you put one of my childhood pictures next to the child on the right you would certainly see some similarities. That's because she is my mom, and the girl to the left is her younger sister. And here they are all grown up, Aunt Rosie on the left, and my mom, Pat, on the right.
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It's always fun to look at old pictures, but I do have a reason for sharing these with you. Last month I wrote about Autism Awareness month, even though you are all already aware of autism. Who could not be? Autism affects approximately 1 in 150 children. But there is something else I'd like you to know more about. May is Brain Tumor Awareness month. Brain tumors do not generate quite the press that autism does, mostly because far fewer people suffer from brain tumors. Still, 44,500 people in the United States are diagnosed with a brain tumor each year. Almost half of those tumors are malignant.

Both of the lovely ladies in these pictures died from brain tumors. They had the same type of tumor, Glioblastoma Multiforme IV -- one of the deadliest forms of cancer (the same type of tumor Senator Ted Kennedy was diagnosed with last year). The two-year survival rate for GBM IV is about 9%. Treatments are grueling.

Aunt Rosie was the first to be diagnosed. Even though they lived across the country from each other, my mom spent much time with her during her 9 month battle. Aunt Rosie died the day after Grace was born, and a couple of months before her first grandchild was born. Mom was diagnosed 364 days later. As hard as such a diagnosis is, I still can't believe how brave my mom was, having just lived the battle with her only sister. She knew exactly what to expect, and it wasn't good. Even though my mom was treated by the finest doctors at one of the top two brain tumor centers in the world, her battle lasted only 18 months. She died four years ago.

Lots of research is being done on how to treat brain tumors, but very little on what causes them. According to the experts, there is no genetic link with brain tumors. Obviously, I find that a little hard to believe. Mom and Aunt Rosie were not the only brain tumor victims in the family -- their mom's two sisters also died from brain tumors. The research I have done leads me to a familiar hypothesis -- genetic predisposition, plus an environmental trigger. The same is being said about autism. In fact, over the years I have read about a number of biomedical commonalities between autism and brain tumors.

So as I did with my Autism Awareness post, I'm asking you to simply pray for those diagnosed with brain tumors and their loved ones. Pray they and their families would all trust in the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3), and pray for advances in science. A few days after my mom was diagnosed she told me that she chose the following to be her verse:
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
Psalm 43:5

1 comment:

  1. Kellie, I am sorry for the loss of your mom and aunt. I can't believe both of them had such an aggressive form of cancer! It must have been so difficult to see your mother go through what she did...I lost my mom 5 years ago and I still miss her so terribly.

    My husband's mother also had glioblastoma and lost his mother 5 years ago after almost 3 years and 4 grueling brain surgeries. I never thought that it was linked to autism...

    Thanks for posting this :)