Facebook can bring good news, silly news, and help keep us up to date on our friends. This Sunday evening, cooler than the previous days, brought sad news. A friend of mine whom I originally met on Compuserve long ago in the 1990s posted an update to her health and it is very bad news. She has been hospitalized for a month.
We had all hoped she would be stabilized and could carry out her plans to move from a third-floor walkup apartment to an assisted living facility. It did not happen. The dialysis that she required took one bad turn after another. Then came today’s news–stage 4 lung cancer. To top that, she has no where to go. Due to health constraints, she can no longer manage the stairs at her apartment. I’m sure there are complications to moving to assisted living places. She writes that she had wondered how her life would end and now she knows. It made me cry.
For the past 18 years I have been part of a research group on teachers and cancer. I signed up at a meeting that was held at our school one day, not realizing how long the study would go on. There were a number of female teachers I knew who had been diagnosed with cancer. Many had died. The idea was that there might be a correlation between the profession and the disease.
Over the years there has been an assortment of questionnaires to answer, usually arriving during the summer vacation months, when teachers would have plenty of time to fill them out, asking about our lifestyle, the conditions in which we teach, the foods we eat, etc. I’ve really lost track of the whole thing except when a newsletter would arrive, filling me in on what was going on. That happened a few months ago where I saw a notice that the study was looking for participants who would be willing to provide a blood sample for the research. I emailed that I would do that and received an email saying that the study had not yet reached the San Joaquin Valley, but would be here soon. Yesterday, the phlebotomist called to set up my blood draw in a few weeks. She told me the blood will be stored at one of University of California campuses, but I forget which one. She asked about medications I take, mainly if I’m on any blood thinners, and if I had recently undergone surgery or chemotherapy. Having no health issues, we set a date and time for her to come to my house and take the blood. She also told me I would receive $10.
Terry is also involved in a long-term health study. His is on stroke and is out of the University of Alabama. He has lost track of how long he has been in the study, but it’s over 10 years. Like mine, he gets a yearly questionnaire as well as a phone call to see how he is doing. When Terry signed on for the study, a doctor came to the house and examined him. A few weeks ago he received a phone call asking him about all sorts of ailments, surgeries, diseases, etc, to which he could answer in the negative for all of them. There was, in addition, a list of medications which he answered no to all of them. The researcher, on the other end, was a bit surprised that a man his age was on no medication and had no ailments. They didn’t ask about hearing. I know Terry doesn’t hear as well as he used to.