My best friend was just diagnosed with cancer

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    Oct 16, 2011 3:00 AM GMT
    I just got an e-mail from my best friend's sister in Buenos Aires, Argentina, letting me know that my beautiful friend Denise has just been diagnosed with a malignant kind of cancer called Mediastinal lymphoma which grows in the middle of the chest area between the heart and the lungs. I've been crying my eyes out inconsolably since I read that e-mail about an hour ago. I'm so upset about this and I still can't believe that my sweet and beautiful friend has been diagnosed with such horrible disease. We've been friends for almost twelve years and she's absolutely one of the most amazing people I've ever met. She has a great husband, awesome parents, sisters, two beautiful little daughters and a myriad of friends who need for her to get better fast.

    If any of you guys know of a hospital, doctor or any kind of treatment that could help her beat this thing, I would be eternally grateful to you all. She lives in Argentina but I'm willing to bring her up to the United States if that meant saving her life. If you know of some kind of medical insurance plan that could take her in even though she has already been diagnosed with this terrible disease, please let me know. I've also heard that there are philanthropic organizations that would take care of medical bills for people in need; please let me know if you have information about this. If you're a spiritual kind of person, please keep Denise in your prayers. In the meantime, I'm looking for a plane ticket to go be with her at the hospital as soon as I can fly out of Washington DC.
  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16311

    Oct 16, 2011 3:08 AM GMT
    So very sorry to hear that! Hope she can get the proper attention
    by the right doctors and can make a very successful recovery.


    You sound like a great friend, my heart certainly goes out to you!

  • Import

    Posts: 7190

    Oct 16, 2011 3:09 AM GMT
    god, i hate fucking cancer. icon_sad.gif


    hope everything turns out ok.
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    Oct 16, 2011 4:27 AM GMT
    Thanks, guys. I really appreciate your kind words. It's been a very rough few hours since I learned about my friend's diagnosis. I've been doing some online research now and I'm not liking what I've found so far. I hope all the experts are wrong and that my sweet friend Denise will indeed get better so that she can return home to her awesome family and all the friends who love her.

    I need to gather up some courage and be strong for her now that she needs me the most. But it's so f*ckin' hard, man! I hate feeling this sad!
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    Oct 16, 2011 4:49 AM GMT
    How is Denise doing herself?

    The prognosis for this rare cancer is rather encouraging in the United States, I don't don't know about Argentina. The combination chemotherapy used in treatment is available in most countries. My best wishes to you and her.
  • Webster666

    Posts: 9217

    Oct 16, 2011 6:29 AM GMT
    If you want to be of help, stop expecting the worst outcome.
    She needs optimistic people around her, even if you have to fake it.

    Don't look to the United States for ANYTHING medical unless you've got tons of money to pay for it.
  • TadPohl

    Posts: 259

    Oct 16, 2011 7:47 AM GMT
    This is a link to America's Top 10 Oncology Hospitals. I hope that it proves useful to your Argentinian friend.
    http://cancer.about.com/od/treatmentoptions/tp/tophospitals.htm
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    Oct 16, 2011 10:31 AM GMT
    I'm really sorry for you and your friend icon_sad.gif

    If you're worried about the costs, maybe you should ask around in some hospitals or private clinics for pro bono treatments? I don't know how it works in the states but where I come from some doctors do pro bono cases when there are special circumstances.
    When you try that, you should try to plead on there hypocratic oath. They've sworen "I will treat without exception all who seek my ministrations".

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    Oct 16, 2011 11:14 AM GMT
    That's really harsh man, best of luck to your friend x
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    Oct 16, 2011 11:20 AM GMT
    I'm sorry you both have to go through this icon_sad.gif

    Read up on the cancer, and see how you can help her.

    Clevland Clinic and Sloan Kettering are among the best cancer treatment and research facilities in the US. Give them a call and see how they can help you.

    Does she know what stage the cancer is in? That really helps determine the prognosis.
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    Oct 16, 2011 11:49 AM GMT
    carminea saidHow is Denise doing herself?

    The prognosis for this rare cancer is rather encouraging in the United States, I don't don't know about Argentina. The combination chemotherapy used in treatment is available in most countries. My best wishes to you and her.


    Well, Argentina is a well-developed country with the same level of technology as the US, so her prognosis will be the same, provided she have access to it...

    (Argentine lapsed into third world state during Peron, but those days are long gone... "Dont cry for me Argentiiiiiinaaaaaaaaa!") icon_razz.gif

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    Oct 16, 2011 11:51 AM GMT
    Webster666 saidIf you want to be of help, stop expecting the worst outcome.
    She needs optimistic people around her, even if you have to fake it.

    Don't look to the United States for ANYTHING medical unless you've got tons of money to pay for it.


    Ive heard! My American friends who buy their (European-produced) drugs here on the island, say they pay up to TEN TIMES more in the US for the same drugs :/
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    Oct 16, 2011 12:22 PM GMT
    MascStud saidIf any of you guys know of a hospital, doctor or any kind of treatment that could help her beat this thing, I would be eternally grateful to you all.

    It happens I'll be seeing my own radiation oncologist tomorrow morning, during my weekly Monday update with him that follows my daily radiation treatment for prostate cancer. He runs his own clinic here in South Florida, highly regarded, but it's not a full-service hospital, which your friend may require. For the out-patient surgical part of my treatment (radiative seed implants) he and another doctor will be using the OR at a nearby hospital where I routinely go for other work.

    Nevertheless I'll ask him, if only for his opinions, and see what he says. Naturally I expect him to give general answers, not having examined the patient or her medical history, but he may have some suggestions & leads.

    As for the disease, I read this online:

    Fifty to eighty percent of patients are cured with a modern intensive combination chemotherapy that is often followed by involved field radiation or autologous transplantation.

    A range up to 80% isn't too bad. In fact, my doctor gave me a 75% for my prostate cancer, being that it's a bit aggressive, and I feel pretty good about my chances, especially since it doesn't appear to have spread. At first it seemed a low number to me when he told me, but then I thought to myself, does anyone ever get a 100%? He confirmed that 100% isn't done, and rarely above 90 for a cancer of an organ, so I'd say if your friend can get something above 50 she's got a fighting chance. And even if not, some people beat unfavorable odds, or else it would be all 0% below 50, with nothing in-between.

    Last week we had dinner with another gay couple, and I realized that all 4 of us have had cancer. With 3 cured, 1 guy still OK after over 10 years, my own partner at 7 with a clean bill of health, and only me now hopefully pending. Cancer is remarkably common it seems, more than I realized, and it can be curable.

    I hope your friend gets good breaks, and commend you for your efforts to help her. Emotional support is very important during this period, in addition to any functional assistance you may be able to provide her.
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    Oct 16, 2011 1:08 PM GMT
    I'm really sorry about your friend. I will say that Cleveland Clinic is a good hospital to go to, seeing as I personally live in the city. It's one of the best hospitals to go to in America. I'm sure you have heard of Scott Hamilton, the famous ice skater. He came to the Cleveland Clinic quite often when he was getting treated for cancer. I also recommend the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, that have various facilities around the US. I will keep your friend in my prayers.

    Here is the link for the cancer treatment centers of america:
    http://www.cancercenter.com/

    link for cleveland clinic:
    http://my.clevelandclinic.org/default.aspx
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    Oct 17, 2011 4:11 AM GMT

    Dear fellow RJ'ers,

    I want to thank you all kindly for having taken the time to write both on this forum as well as in private giving me hope for my friend Denise, and also for the information about the various possible treatments she may undergo to fight her cancer. Ever since I got the news last night, I've spent countless hours doing research and talking to friends and family that know more than I do about health-related issues. Even though this is a very serious kind of cancer, it is treatable and the success rates could be quite high if detected early enough. However, that's the key issue here. Denise started feeling shortness of breath, faintness and strong palpitations only about three weeks ago. At first, the docs told her she might just be having some stress-related episodes and asked her to go home and try to relax. The symptoms, however, got only worse as days went by and she ended up in the hospital a couple of days ago where they did more detailed tests and the cancer was discovered. Last Friday the docs did a brand-new set of tests (biopsy, blood work, etc.) and sent those new samples to two different laboratories to see if they could confirm the diagnosis. If confirmed, the doctors are already getting Denise ready for chemotherapy and even invasive surgery, if needed.

    I'm actually overwhelmed and very moved by the outpouring of support from total strangers like you guys who have reached out to offer your two cents and, most importantly, to offer your kindness and warmth during these difficult times. If only there were more people like you gentlemen in the world, this planet of ours would be a much better place.

    Thank you again from the bottom of my heart. I promise you all I'll be strong for my own sake, but most importantly for my friend who needs me right now. I'll be a champion, just as she has always been and continues to be to all those of us who have the privilege of knowing her.

    Gratefully,

    Carlo
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    Oct 17, 2011 2:48 PM GMT
    No problem, Carlo, glad to help. Now I did speak with my radiation oncologist this morning, just got back home after a side trip to see my partner's sister and work on her (*&&^#^*#@) Windows computer.

    My doctor confirmed what I read online, and you have learned for yourself, that this is a very treatable cancer, if caught early enough. It's not one of the more difficult ones, like pancreatic or brain. and he told me he was treating such a case as your friend's later today.

    He said the treatment in the US runs about 6 months on average, consisting of chemo, field radiation, and often surgery. Therefore leaving Argentina for the US or anywhere would incur a great expense, not only for the treatment but also for the lodging. If she is satisfied that Argentina has adequate treatment facilities then she is likely better off remaining there.

    My doctor simply didn't know enough about Argentina to advise her in that regard. He did say that should she nevertheless elect to come to the US, she can either contact US hospitals directly, or use one of several "clearing houses" that help to match foreign patients to our facilities. The office of the Argentina Ambassador to the US may also be of assistance, and Argentina's Ministries of Foreign Relations and of Health.
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    Oct 19, 2011 12:42 AM GMT
    Art_Deco saidNo problem, Carlo, glad to help. Now I did speak with my radiation oncologist this morning, just got back home after a side trip to see my partner's sister and work on her (*&&^#^*#@) Windows computer.

    My doctor confirmed what I read online, and you have learned for yourself, that this is a very treatable cancer, if caught early enough. It's not one of the more difficult ones, like pancreatic or brain. and he told me he was treating such a case as your friend's later today.

    He said the treatment in the US runs about 6 months on average, consisting of chemo, field radiation, and often surgery. Therefore leaving Argentina for the US or anywhere would incur a great expense, not only for the treatment but also for the lodging. If she is satisfied that Argentina has adequate treatment facilities then she is likely better off remaining there.

    My doctor simply didn't know enough about Argentina to advise her in that regard. He did say that should she nevertheless elect to come to the US, she can either contact US hospitals directly, or use one of several "clearing houses" that help to match foreign patients to our facilities. The office of the Argentina Ambassador to the US may also be of assistance, and Argentina's Ministries of Foreign Relations and of Health.


    I just wanted to let you know that I spoke with my friend's husband and sister earlier today. She's still in the hospital as we speak, but doing well given the circumstances. She's still unable to speak due to the swelling of the lymph nodes in her throat but we've been corresponding by e-mail and text messages for several days now. She knows that although I'm not physically by her bedside, I'm with her in spirit and that I'm rooting for her prompt recovery from a distance. She's shown me once more that she's a true fighter and I know she'll come out of this difficult situation triumphant.

    The docs that are treating her in Buenos Aires are top-notch and I'm sure she's in great hands. Nevertheless, I've taken the information I found on some of the world's most reputable hospital's websites and passed them along to my friend's family for their review. I've also spoken both yesterday and today to some great oncologists all over the United States and a couple in Western Europe (it comes in handy to be multilingual especially in cases like this, believe me) and they all seem to be optimistic in the chances Denise has by undergoing chemotherapy, radiation and possibly surgery in the near future. From what they've told me, and from what you've also heard form your own doctor, as long as the cancer was detected early enough, the survival rate is actually very good.

    Thank you again for your moral and practical support which has made a world of difference to me during these difficult times. I greatly appreciate all you've done for me and my friend who you don't even know. This is clear proof of the great level of humanity that one can find in total strangers. This is what being a good person truly is.

    Thanks again.
    Take care,

    Carlo


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    Oct 19, 2011 12:43 AM GMT
    Hey Carlo,

    I really am sorry about your friend and I hope for all the best

    -Alex
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    Oct 19, 2011 12:48 AM GMT
    Sorry about your friend. It is sad to hear about cancer striking someone. I will defintely be thinking of her and her family and you as her friend. I hope that something can be done to help her out.
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    Oct 19, 2011 12:58 AM GMT
    Last year one of my good friends got throat cancer right before he and his wife were about to have their first baby. He is in remission now and doing really well. My other friend was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma about 8 years ago. He beat it and has been fine ever since. People do beat cancer, a lot of people do so it doesn't have to be a death sentence. I've learned to ask people what they want or need versus just trying to insert myself. Some people are really private. My buddy was overwhelmed so we emailed his wife every 2 weeks, and he made a point to send out updates about every 6-10 days of treatment. Good luck.