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Staring Down Cancer

Living with dignity

My wife Noreen is feeling the effects of Abraxane.  She has become anemic, with a very low white cell count.  If there is a potential side effect associated with her treatments, Noreen experiences it.

They gave her an injection which causes the bones to squeeze marrow and produce a higher white count.  It hasn't worked.  The accompanying bone pain is terrible.  It moves around her body.   Running a fever of 100 adds to her discomfort.

In short, she's a mess.  Headaches, bone pain, nausea, fever, dehydration, light sensitivity, a hoarse voice, and now the mouth sores have returned.

Last night, she said, "If this continues, I can't live like this."

I know it was a comment made in the moment, but she meant it.

Obviously, I'm not going to let anything happen, but I can't get her statement out of my mind.  It's all about the dignity of being able to lead a meaningful life.

The question:  If you no longer feel that you can conduct your life with dignity (as Noreen says), what do you do?

I watch her struggle with this horrible disease, and I know she wants more than anything to see our two children graduate from college and push on to successful lives that she can share.

She asked me, point blank:  "If I'm not capable of holding my own, and the dignity of living passes for me, what do I do?"

The doctor says this blood infusion will work, and she will feel much better.  And I believe him.

But this last week, after watching Noreen go through the multiple attacks on her body, I see clearly how the dignity of living can be wiped away so easily.

So this is my quest: To help Noreen beat this disease and maintain her dignity as a woman and a mother.

She is the light of my life, and nobody quits in our family.

Noreen Fraser is living with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. She is co-founder of STAND UP TO CANCER and co-produced the TV show, which raised 100 million dollars for cancer research.  Noreen went on to create the Noreen Fraser Foundation to raise money and awareness for women's cancer research. The 'Men for Women Now' program enlists men to ask the women they love to make appointments for their mammogram and pap smear. For more information: go to noreenfraserfoundation.org.  Noreen can be reached at noreen@noreenfraserfoundation.org and followed on Twitter @noreenfraser.