Phoenix, Arizona – Cancer is one of the main causes of death worldwide. Cancer is more than a statistic and effects more than just the afflicted. It has a dramatic impact on the loved ones in the cancer patient’s life.
Todd Thommes, a resident of Phoenix, Arizona and a tech leader, talked about the death of his mother. She died in 2004 and it still impacts him to this day. He said, “It hasn’t been easy.” It is difficult for him to communicate the many feelings and trauma he experienced. His mother suffered from Diabetes I her whole life and later developed Leukemia. The Leukemia went into remission as a result of chemotherapy treatments. However, the chemotherapy impacted her immune system and she ultimately died of opportunistic infections.
Richard Miller, also a resident of Phoenix, Arizona, shared his story via phone about the death of his sister. She left behind him and her two daughters in their forties. They too seem to continue to experience grief and trauma.Mr. Miller said, “the grief marches on.”
Cancer incidence is relatively high. It strikes about 440 people per 100,000 in the US alone. Surviving cancer has increased over the years and, between 2009-2015, the cancer survival rate was 67.1%, but this number is capped at five years. Some people survive for many years and then the cancer reoccurs and is often fatal.
There are numerous ways for loved ones to battle the grief of losing a person to cancer. There are support groups, grief therapy, counseling and other strategies for dealing with loss. Part of dealing with grief is understanding grief. And yet, despite all the grief therapy, the ones left behind are still left with traumatic memories and gaping holes in their life. Grief is not an easy process and cancer seems to be increasing worldwide, likely due to environmental causes or ecological disasters.
Todd Thommes and Richard Miller carry on, live their lives, and engage in life, but there remains an echo of grief from the loss of their loved ones.
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Story by Risa Peris