Often times when a person hears the word cancer you can see the immediate impact that word has on them, no matter what setting or context it is used in. It is a scary word that carries a tremendous amount of weight with it. But I believe it means something different to everyone. Webster’s defines the word cancer as a malignant tumor of potentially unlimited growth that expands locally by invasion and systemically by metastasis. I don’t know about you but to me that means very little.
In its simplest form and to some people cancer means sick, very sick, life threatening sickness. To others cancer can mean a far different thing. Maybe it means facing the biggest challenge of your life, maybe it means finding a newfound perspective on life, maybe it means growing a moustache every November to raise awareness for prostate and testicular cancer (which a number of men at The VCC were doing and if you would like to check it out you can go to www.movember.com and search “The Burly Beards of VCC”), maybe it means fear, anxiety and distress.
The meaning changes for everyone based on their own personal experiences with cancer. And we all have had an experience with cancer. Half of all men and one-third of all women in the US will develop cancer at some point during their lifetime. That means virtually all of us will be touched by the disease in some way, either personally, or through a friend, relative, coworker or neighbor. The statistics for our furry friends are almost identical. Fifty percent of dogs over the age of 10 develop cancer at some point in their life. Put these together and it’s safe to say that you will have an experience with cancer at some point in your life.
I mention these statistics not to be the bearer of bad news but to give you some perspective on the prevalence of cancer. It is because of this that places like The Veterinary Cancer Center exist. A place solely dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in animals. A place that helps its clients to understand that a diagnosis of cancer is not a death sentence. A place that provides compassionate care, support and most importantly - hope.