Connect with us

Health

Love on borrowed time: Cancer patients find romance despite terminal prognosis

Editor

Published

on

[ad_1]

TORONTO — It could have been a meet-cute in a romantic comedy between a man and a “mutant.”

After weeks of online flirting, Patrick Bardos was en route to meet Anne Marie Cerato for their first date at a coffee shop in downtown Toronto. He texted Cerato to let her know he was only a few blocks away on a packed streetcar crawling through rush-hour traffic. Cerato said she had just passed the same intersection. “Are you wearing blue shoes?” she asked.

Bardos looked down at his lapis-blue sneakers, then up to search for Cerato among the thicket of commuters. He felt a tap on his shoulder. Bardos turned around, and there was Cerato, just like the photo on her dating profile — long dark hair and brown eyes sharpened by angular glasses. Better yet, unlike many of his previous dates, he was taller than her.

“You’re short,” Bardos blurted out. “But I’m short too. And that’s not what I meant.”

Bardos must have said something to redeem himself, because the two kept talking until the coffee shop closed. They decided to grab a bite at a nearby restaurant, and once again shut down the house. It was then Bardos realized that he was late for his own birthday celebration, so he rushed back to his apartment to attend to his peeved party guests, who spent the night listening to him rave about this woman he just met.

As smitten as Cerato, then 33, was with Bardos, she knew she didn’t have time to waste on a dead-end relationship. So on their second date, she decided to drop “the bomb.”

Knowing Bardos was a comic book fan, Cerato tried to soften the blow by appealing to his superhero sensibilities. “I’m not an alien,” she said, “but I am a mutant.”

To Bardos’ disappointment, Cerato admitted she wasn’t a member of the X-Men. However, she had been exposed to her fair share of radiation in treating a form of lung cancer driven by a genetic mutation.

After two years in remission, Cerato had recently learned her cancer had spread, and chances were, she wouldn’t be around in five years.

This was Bardos’ chance to run for the hills, Cerato said. Bardos took a moment to consider his dilemma: How does one fall in love knowing loss is imminent?

When facing a disease with life-or-death stakes, matters of the heart may seem like a secondary concern. But cancer can serve as a “litmus test” for a relationship — and many fail, said Dr. Robert Rutledge, a Halifax radiation oncologist.

He said it’s not uncommon for people to sever ties, even marriages, with partners rather than confront the prospect of losing a loved one to cancer, and by proxy, face their own mortality.

But while some couples collapse under the strain of sickness, Rutledge said, for others, it can heighten emotional connections. The people who stand by their partners when the end seems near tend to be the ones who are worth the time patients have left, he said.

Sitting across from the “mutant” he was falling for, Bardos resolved to be that kind of partner for Cerato.

That was in fall 2011. Seven years later, Bardos and Cerato are married, own a house, have travelled the world and even celebrated their “25th anniversary,” adjusting their romantic milestones for love on a condensed timeline.

Before he met Cerato, Bardos said he would waver between ruminating about the past, and fretting about the future. Now, Bardos said he’s able to immerse himself in the moment, so he can spend it with her.

“She made me a better person, very quickly, just by being herself,” he said.

At 40, Cerato said she has defied survival statistics thanks to recent developments in targeted-gene therapy. But knowing her time is finite, she was forced to decide what she could live without and whom she could not.

“I feel like, in a way, it’s a gift that I was able to realize that at 30 and not at 60.”

For Morgan McNeely in Edmonton, this realization came a month before she turned 25 when she found out she had terminal stage-4 colon cancer.

After her diagnosis in 2015, McNeely found herself without her studies, her scientific research and her restaurant job, and short a few relationships she thought she could count on.

She suddenly had a lot of free time on her hands, so she and a friend decided to amuse themselves by swiping through Tinder.

McNeely turned down a number of propositions, including one lothario who offered to assist her in crossing items off her “sexual bucket list.”

She was expressly not looking for love — the last guy she had dated split because of her “cancer drama” — but one of her Tinder matches proved persistent, and they started dating.

Having lost so much, McNeely was afraid to let her guard down. But he told her, “I see you beyond cancer.” And soon, he helped McNeely see that too.

“I feel lucky every day, because of him,” she said. “I’m not happy I have cancer, but I’m still thankful for what it’s brought me.”

Still, McNeely said disease can complicate a relationship. When she and her boyfriend got a cat together, McNeely said they had to consider whether he could take care of the pet without her. When they discuss the prospect of marriage, she worries about whether debts related to her illness would transfer to him after she dies.

This is the case for many terminal cancer patients: Their greatest concern is not their own death, but the impact it will have on loved ones they leave behind.

Julie Easley is all too familiar with this tension, not only as a social scientist whose research has focused on young people with cancer, but as a survivor who has suffered loss herself.

When Easley met Randy Cable at a bar in Fredericton in 2004, she felt an instant jolt of recognition. At 28, Easley’s life had recently been handed back to her after beating stage-2 Hodgkin lymphoma. Cable, then 29, had been diagnosed with colon cancer and told he had three months to live — that day, the clock had run out.

From then on, it was love on borrowed time.

Easley knew the isolation that can come with fighting cancer. She was doing research at the hospital where Cable was being treated, so she started visiting him after work.

One night, Cable was too afraid to fall asleep, having been told he could go into cardiac arrest at any moment. Easley offered to stay over to monitor his breathing. She crawled into bed with him and put her hand over his chest, feeling it rise and fall as they both drifted off. After that, she slept over more often than not, holding hands throughout the night.

At times, it almost felt like they were a “normal” couple. To entertain themselves, they would pretend the reflection in the TV screen revealed another room in their imaginary apartment.

“There’s something about seeing that strength of character and that beauty of the human spirit when you’re stripped down to your most vulnerable state,” she said. “I fell in love with that.”

Easley said it took Cable some time to realize she was more than just the “girl he was sleeping with.” When Easley first told Cable she loved him, he fell silent. He had told his mother that his biggest regret was that he had never been in love, according to Easley, but she had proved him wrong. “I love you too,” he said, eyes welling up with tears.

In fall 2005, little more than a year after they met, it became clear the end was near. Cable’s friends and relatives gathered around his bed, and he asked Easley to climb in with him. This time, instead of her holding him, he cradled her in his arms as he died at 31.

Thirteen years later, Easley continues to honour Cable’s memory through her work in the young adult cancer community, and feels grateful for the memories he gave her.

“If you ever truly want to know the value of life, you spend time with someone who’s fighting for every scrap of it,” said Easley. “I knew it would end. The part I didn’t know is the unexpected beauty that happened within that.”

[ad_2]

Source link

قالب وردپرس

Health

Health Ranger posts new microscopy photos of covid swabs, covid masks and mysterious red and blue fibers

Editor

Published

on

By

(Natural News) What follows is a series of microscopy photos of covid swabs (a synthetic swab, then a cotton swab), a covid mask and some zoomed-in photos of mysterious red and blue fibers found in the masks.

The magnification range for these photos is 50X to 200X. Most were taken with white light, but several (as indicated) were taken with UV light.

The images shown here are 600 pixels wide. We have higher resolution images available to researchers and indy media journalists; contact us for those hi-res images.

More microscopy investigations are under way, and new images will be posted as they are finalized.

First, this series shows the carbon fiber layer of a covid mask, illuminated with UV light:

Continue Reading

Health

5,800 test positive, 74 die of coronavirus at least 14 days after getting fully vaccinated

Editor

Published

on

By

(Natural News) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday, April 15, confirmed some 5,800 breakthrough coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the U.S.

A breakthrough COVID-19 case is defined as someone who has detectable levels of SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 – at least 14 days after getting fully vaccinated against the disease.

Nearly 400 breakthrough cases required treatment at hospitals and 74 died. A little over 40 percent of the infections were in people 60 years and above and 65 percent were female. About 29 percent of the vaccine breakthrough infections were reportedly asymptomatic. The figures were for cases through April 13.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told a congressional hearing on Thursday that the causes of the breakthrough cases are being probed. “Some of these breakthroughs are, of course, failure of an immune response in the host. And then some of them we worry might be related to a variant that is circulating. So we’re looking at both,” she said.

The CDC is monitoring reported cases “for clustering by patient demographics, geographic location, time since vaccination, vaccine type or lot number, and SARS-CoV-2 lineage.” It has created a national COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough database, where state health departments can enter, store and manage data for cases in their region.

Where available, respiratory specimens that tested positive for COVID-19 will be collected for genomic sequencing “to identify the virus lineage that caused the infection.”

Positive test less than two weeks after getting fully vaccinated is not a breakthrough case

The number of cases the CDC has identified does not include people who contracted COVID-19 less than two weeks after their final dose. The two-week marker is important, said infectious disease expert Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

A human body should have enough time to develop antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 after that timeframe. Before then, a person won’t necessarily have the built-up immunity needed to fight off an infection. According to Dr. Adalja, cases that occur before the two-week mark are not considered breakthrough cases.

Dr. Adalja also noted that more research is needed to determine if highly infectious variants of the virus are behind the breakthrough cases. “It is crucial to study breakthrough cases to understand their severity, their contagiousness and what role variants may be playing,” Dr. Adalja said.

More than 78 million people have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in the U.S. as of April 15.

“To date, no unexpected patterns have been identified in case demographics or vaccine characteristics,” the CDC said in a statement. “COVID-19 vaccines are effective and are a critical tool to bring the pandemic under control.”

But the CDC conceded that “thousands of vaccine breakthrough cases will occur even though the vaccine is working as expected.”

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, agreed with the CDC. “These vaccines that we’re using are fabulous but they’re not perfect,” he said. “At best, they’re 95 percent effective in preventing serious illness, but minor illnesses can occur.”

According to U.S. drug regulators, Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is 95 percent effective in preventing infection. Moderna’s was shown in a clinical trial to be 94.1 percent effective while Johnson & Johnson’s was 66.9 percent effective. Only Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which received its emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Feb. 27, was tested when variants were circulating.

The percentages are based on results from vaccine recipients two weeks after the final vaccination.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, stated in a briefing last week that the breakthrough cases are not a cause for concern.

“I think the important thing is to look at what the denominator of vaccinated people is. Because it is very likely that the number of breakthrough cases is not at all incompatible with the 90-plus percent vaccine efficacy,” he said. “So I don’t think that there needs to be concern about any shift or change in the efficacy of the vaccine.”

More info needed before drawing conclusions from breakthrough cases

The percentage of vaccine breakthroughs in a population depends on multiple factors, including vaccine efficacy, the amount of virus circulating and the length of time since vaccination, according to Natalie Dean, an assistant professor of biostatistics at the University of Florida.

“I love to see small numbers as much as anyone, but know that numbers like this cannot be directly interpreted as a measure of vaccine efficacy (although I have a feeling they will be). We can only interpret them against a background rate in unvaccinated people,” Dean wrote on Twitter.

“Similarly, ‘most breakthroughs have been in elderly adults’ should not be read as the vaccine is less effective in elderly adults. The majority of vaccinations (and the longest amount of follow-up time) have been in elderly adults. Again, we need more info to interpret.”

Continue Reading

Health

More people died from fentanyl overdose than coronavirus in San Francisco last year

Editor

Published

on

By

(Natural News) More people died from fentanyl overdose than coronavirus (COVID-19) in San Francisco last year, a microcosm of a larger nationwide problem coinciding with the pandemic.

Data from San Francisco’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner shows that 708 people were killed by fentanyl in 2020, an astonishing 118 times more since the introduction of the drug in the city just five years earlier.

That figure nearly tripled the 254 COVID-19 deaths recorded in the city for the whole of last year. More than 8 in 10 deaths were male, and just under half were white. People aged 55 to 64 made up nearly a quarter of the fatalities. Nearly 40 percent of the deaths occurred in open-air drug markets such as the Tenderloin and South of Market.

The number of overdose deaths in the city could have been far worse as more than 3,000 addicts suffering from an overdose were administered with naloxone, the lifesaving medication that reverses overdoses.

San Francisco’s death rate from fentanyl overdose continues to rise this year as 135 died by overdose in January and February, putting the city on pace for more than 800 deaths by the end of the year.

The city has become a significant part of a larger trend. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data on Wednesday, April 14, showing that more than 87,000 Americans died from drug overdose over the 12-month period that ended in September last year – the highest since the opioid epidemic began in the 1990s.

Lockdowns lead to more cases of drug overdose

The surge represents an increasingly urgent public health crisis that may be correlated to the government’s monotonous battle plan against the COVID-19 pandemic.

On March 19 last year, California became the first state in the U.S. to implement a stay-at-home order. It subsequently endured the longest lockdown of any state in the country.

The pandemic and accompanying lockdowns are believed to be partly responsible for the soaring number of drug deaths for obvious reasons. Lockdowns have badly disrupted the social services in the city, including drug addiction treatment. Drug experts say the isolation of the past 12 months is causing vulnerable residents to turn to opioids.

“We see the death and devastation getting worse right in front of us,” said Matt Haney, San Francisco Board of Supervisors member. “It’s an unprecedented spiraling, directly connected to the introduction of fentanyl in our city.”

Fentanyl first appeared on the streets of San Francisco in 2015. There were just six deaths from the synthetic opioid that year, 12 deaths in 2016 and 37 deaths in 2017. The figure skyrocketed when the drugs became widely available in the city in 2018.

Kristen Marshall, manager of the national drug harm reduction DOPE Project, noted the grim irony that while social isolation could save lives from COVID-19, it had undoubtedly contributed to the number of overdose deaths.

“Isolation is also the thing that puts people at the absolute highest risk of overdose death,” she said.

Pandemic exacerbates rise in deaths from drug overdose

The number of deaths from drug overdose started rising in the months leading up to the coronavirus pandemic, making it hard to gauge how closely the two phenomena are linked. But the pandemic unquestionably exacerbated the trend. The biggest jump in overdose deaths took place in April and May when fear and stress were rampant, job losses were multiplying and the strictest lockdown measures were in effect.

Many treatment programs closed during that time while drop-in centers, which provide support, clean syringes and naloxone, cut back services.

The data released by the CDC shows a 29 percent rise in overdose deaths from October 2019 through September 2020 compared with the previous 12-month period. Illicitly manufactured fentanyl and other synthetic opioids were the primary drivers, although many fatal overdoses have also involved stimulant drugs like methamphetamine.

Unlike in the early years of the opioid epidemic, when deaths were largely among white Americans in rural and suburban areas, the current crisis is affecting Black Americans disproportionately.

“The highest increase in mortality from opioids, predominantly driven by fentanyl, is now among Black Americans,” Dr. Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said at a national addiction conference last week.

“And when you look at mortality from methamphetamine, it’s chilling to realize that the risk of dying from methamphetamine overdose is 12-fold higher among American Indians and Alaskan Natives than other groups.”

Dr. Volkow added that more deaths than ever involved drug combinations, typically of fentanyl or heroin with stimulants.

“Dealers are lacing these non-opioid drugs with cheaper, yet potent, opioids to make a larger profit,” she said. “Someone who’s addicted to a stimulant drug like cocaine or methamphetamine is not tolerant to opioids, which means they are going to be at high risk of overdose if they get a stimulant drug that’s laced with an opioid like fentanyl.”

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) supported Dr. Volkow’s claim, saying that transnational criminal organizations cause a spike in overdoses by mixing fentanyl into illicit narcotics.

According to the DEA, Mexican cartels often purchase the drug components in China and use human mules to smuggle the narcotics to lucrative drug markets north of the border.

Continue Reading

Chat

Trending