Thursday, May 12, 2011

Cancer Clusters

I had always thought Acute Myeloid Leukemia was a rare cancer, and according to any literature available on the internet it is.  Within ten miles, I personally know three people who have or had AML.  On Tuesday, I called the Luekemia and Lymphoma Society and asked them if they could send some information that I could have available for Missi's benefit next week.  They were very helpful.

I also explained to them about my concern that I personally know three people with AML, a cancer mostly predominate in old men who had handled benzene. 

Libby, the patient services, agreed with me that it was quite odd that there would be three people within ten miles with the same disease.  I mentioned that there was another woman in the area who had Acute Lymphlastic Syndrome.  Then, she told me about cancer clusters.  Cancer clusters are small areas  that tend to get the same type of cancer.

"Have you ever heard of Grand Forks?"  She asked.  "There's a larger percentage of kids with leukemia there.  The health department couldn't come to any conclusions, but they are still keeping a watchful eye."

"That is where my sister was diagnosed."

I asked her if there was any more news of cytrabine, the drug used for patients with AML.  I hadn't been keeping up like I should.

There is still a shortage.  The University of Minnesota has been rationing the drugs to patients, but Mayo is not yet.  She told me of a mom packing her daughter up to go to Canada, so her daughter would have a better chance for the drug. 

I can't imagine what it is like to fight for the chance to fight for your life.

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