Cancer Realities: Inconvenient Proof
Julie A. Sergel
The word "cancer" is par for the course these days. We all hear it, know somebody who has or had it, and yet, by and large, it remains a most elusive descriptive used to explain an often times abrupt interruption in the process of life.
Michael Moore's most recent documentary, "Sicko" helps break the glass ceiling of any disillusioned assumptions we may have subconsciously conjured in our minds regarding our nation's health"care" system�we may need to omit the second syllable here, and, for that matter, the first!
To aid the process of reality check, I recently discovered a breast cancer survivor, a powerful voice with much insight and experience to share. Her name is Tammi Jacob, a courageous single mother of twins who's just released an e-book, My Cancer Memories--an invaluable resource for any man, woman or child diagnosed with cancer.
"My book is very hands-on. Most people have no clue what's going to happen to their bodies," Jacob explained as she herself had searched the Internet hoping to find some clues. "You see Farrah Fawcett--nobody looks like that."
Diagnosed with Breast Cancer in November of 2003, surprisingly, the harsh diagnosis was not so much a surprise. "All the women in my family have died early from breast and ovarian cancer�except for my mother, who's lived through re-occurrence. I had been getting mammograms and ultrasounds every six months from age 25 on."
Jacob initially suffered from a condition known as endometriosis (where the tissue that lines the interior of the uterus grows outside and attaches to other organs) and was prompted by her doctor to check out a study going on at UCLA. Here, she tested positive for the BRCA gene, common to those of eastern or central European decent�especially Ashkenazi Jews. " I was told I was BRCA 1 positive, which meant I had a 50 to 85 percent chance of developing breast and ovarian cancer in my lifetime," shared Ms. Jacob. Breast Cancer genes [BRCA1 and BRAC2] increase the odds of breast and ovarian cancer rates; they are commonly inherited and testing is vital!
At the ripe age of 32, Jacob was faced with a harsh call�have a complete hysterectomy, which would erase the endometriosis and curb the high risk of ovarian cancer, or hold on to her reproductive system and try to beat the odds stacked against her. She opted for the operation, but soon after discovered lumps on her left side and a mass against her right chest wall.
Jacob's story, "her truth" as she describes it, graphically depicts the harsh realities of being identified with a most jarring disease. "When I was diagnosed with cancer, I searched the internet for photos, information and blogs from women that were actually going through what I was going through. I wanted to hear stories and see photos. I wanted to see the reality of what to expect. I wanted to feel and see that my outcome was like others. I wanted to know that other women had reconstruction that just didn't turn out perfect. I wanted to see the reality of it all without it being sugar-coated."
The mental, emotional, physical--and financial--tolls are chronicled in way that offers a distinct equipping. Jacob's honesty disarms the swelling fears of the unknown and helps the reader to gain a first-hand account of the "whats" and "hows" of cancer patient protocol�even sharing photos. In fact, what prompted the book was the act of keeping a journal to pass on to her children, in case she didn't survive.
Thoroughly endorsing a proactive stance, Jacob explains the paths she had to take in order to override direction from her primary health care provider and persist with insurance companies. "Six months after my last treatment," shares Ms. Jacob, "I felt a lump in my armpit. It was a round ball that moved and sometimes could not be felt. I went to my primary physician who told me that �it is nothing but scar tissue' and that �we wouldn't want to waste insurance money on doing a biopsy because of your fear.' I knew something wasn't right and his explanation was not acceptable to me. I strongly believe that you need to take control of your own body and medical needs. You know your body best."
In it all, Jacob endured 32 surgeries in seven years�qualifying her not only a brave soul, but also one with a voice that warrants others to listen. "The biggest challenge is that there are little to no funds available for cancer patients�Cancer is hard enough to deal with on its own, now add financial, emotional, loss of self esteem, pain from side effects, and raising a family�I feel alone with my feelings and thoughts." These are some of the careful considerations shared, but there are so many more.
"My Cancer Memories" is an essential handbook for any loved one diagnosed with cancer, but it's also an insightful read for those interested in the real deal regarding our country's health care set up. As Michael Moore expressed in response to its present state, "We've got start taking care of each other," alluding to the idea of extracting the profit margin out of health care and adding a dose of responsibility to one another to get rid of the injustice contained within the system as it is.
Unfortunately, this is another facet of Jacob's trial�the reality of little help from the world around her, "The doctors who are treating you, are the first to send collections agencies after you, knowing you don't have the money." When faced with an inability to pay rent and other bills, even local Temples, organizations and charities came up empty-handed; "We don't do that," they said.
Donations from the sale of the book will be made--not to organizations for prevention, but for those in the trenches�fighting cancer right now, with right now needs. If nothing else, Jacob entreats people to "Always ask questions. Your body is your temple."
You can learn more about Tammi Jacob at her website: www.mycancermemories.com or by emailing her at TammiJacob@gmail.com. Purchase the eBook now; it's an investment you'll not regret.