Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Is cancer contagious? No, of course it isn’t. You can’t contract cancer by kissing someone with cancer, shaking their hand, or eating after them. Even though, when Bob was first diagnosed, he would say "I hope you don't catch this" and I would reply "Honey, it's not contagious". Of course he knew it wasn't, but I understood what he was saying and how he felt. He didn’t mean he didn’t want me to “catch” it from him…..he just didn’t want me “getting” it, period.

A couple of weeks ago, when we went to the Cancer Center for his weekly treatment of Velcade/Dex, it appeared that the waiting room was bursting at the seams. The 60 chairs were almost filled, and folks had begun to stand near the doors, and in the hall.

I commented to Bob, "It's almost as if cancer is contagious". Each week there seem to be more and more - new faces. There are those that we see almost every time we go, and folks with whom we've become friendly. People in our same situation (with cancer), walking our same pathway (treatments). A few that we've met have Multiple Myeloma, but we've also met those with breast cancer, lung cancer, etc. One man had lung cancer, and is in remission, but now has a secondary cancer, in his back. His wife is a breast cancer survivor. 

It’s devastating to learn that you, or someone you love, have cancer – but it’s hard to explain how depressing it is to see more and more people filling the waiting room, in the Cancer Center. Whether they already had cancer and were in remission, and are back to be checked, or were in remission and have relapsed; or are newcomers to this journey – I want to scream “Why???” I look at those growing numbers, and even though there is nothing to substantiate my thoughts, I can’t help but wonder.

Those who have relapsed are back in their own level of turmoil, fighting just like they did the first time around. I look at those who seem to be new, and I have a sense of knowing how they feel. You hope they’ll know all the right questions to ask, that they’ll know enough to do some research, and that they’ll know enough to ask for a second opinion. Most of all, you hope that they have a fighting chance.   

Bob was diagnosed just a little over 6 months ago, so we're still considered "Newbies" in this world of cancer. How quickly we've had to learn. And, just as quickly as we've had to learn, is how quickly treatments and research is changing. There is info, online and on Multiple Myeloma websites, regarding vaccines for cancer, as well as the use of genomes (DNA) for selecting the correct protocol for treatment.

We can catch a virus, we can catch the flu, and we can catch an infectious disease. Having said that, there are contagious viruses (HIV) which have been thought to cause some types of cancer. So, does that mean that some types of cancer can be contagious, indirectly???

All this, just because the room was full!!


  1. Oh Sarah, I so understand this. When Dave and I returned from Arkansas the first time, our new neighbor who I had met briefly, but Dave had not, came over. He told Dave how inspirational it was to see him outside in the yard. His 11 year old son had just been diagnosed with Leukemia. It took everything I had not to just scream at the top of my lungs "WHY!" It seems like it's EVERYWHERE.

    As an aside, the young boy is doing terrific and with a 95% cure rate for childhood leukemia of his type, it would appear he will be a long term survivor.

  2. Lori: And today, there were MORE new faces. I just don't understand......

    It's bad enough with our men, but I really hate hearing about the children.

  3. Hello there Sarah - thanks for your kind words over on my blog.
    Glad to hear things are going well for Bob.
    This post reminded me so much of last month at the hospital. There was a "newbie" chatting to everyone, full of nervous energy, and asked an old chap how long he had been coming there: "Ten years". TEN YEARS! The younger man looked so shocked, but came back with "Oh so you're doing well then...?" And the reply was "Can't complain. I used to come every 3 months but now they want me every week..." And you could see the young man thinking he'd put his foot in it, and yet the older chap seemed to be so accustomed to the routine he was just getting on with it. It's odd what we accept as normal as time goes on!