Program Note: Watch Randi Kaye's full report tonight on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.
Randi Kaye | Bio
This is not an easy subject. Cancer. I hate to even write the word. The only comfort in it, strange as it is, is that practically everyone has been touched by it. Practically everyone knows someone who had it or maybe even has it.
Nearly 9 million people watch the documentary "Farrah's Story" Friday night on NBC. I was not one of them. Why?
My grandmother died of cancer just before I graduated college. She had colon cancer which then moved into her stomach and spread throughout her body. I can still remember visiting her in the nursing home. She was so small and frail in her bed. She passed away just days before my college graduation. She was such a no-nonsense tough woman. Hard to believe anything could beat her but cancer did.
A couple years before my grandmother got sick my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. She had been smoking since she was 12. I will never forget the message I got on the answering machine in my college apartment. It was my mom telling me "I'm dying."
After numerous operations, doctors managed to save my mom. Incredible! She spent five months in the hospital without a cigarette and made all kinds of promises that she'd never smoke again.
It didn't last. I'm not sure how long it took but my mother started puffing away again. I've never smoked myself, so I can only imagine how addictive nicotine can be. She tried hypnosis and the nicotine patch. No luck.
Sure enough, my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer again last year. This time it was her other lung. It had been twenty years since her original diagnosis and she'd been smoking all that time. Secretly mostly. She was so scared this time would be it. Death seemed to be on her doorstep like it seems it is for Farrah Fawcett now. She went through chemotherapy and radiation. She lost all her hair.
But mom got lucky - again. So incredibly lucky.
My mother learned not too long ago the lung cancer is gone! Poof! What a celebration that was. Though I'm sad to say she is still smoking here and there.
I don't usually share this type of story on our blog but as we watch Farrah Fawcett try to hold onto her dignity before our eyes I thought why not discuss this? I'm sure many of you reading this have similar stories. Maybe worse in some cases.
There is still so much to learn about this deadly disease. All we can do until a cure is found really is to show compassion for those suffering from it. Tell them you love them. Give them a hug. You may not be able to save them, but for those few seconds, or maybe a couple of minutes if you’re lucky, they may forget the pain they're in... and how scared they are.
Filed under: 360° Radar • Medical News • Public Health • Randi Kaye
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Please remember the Children with Cancer! While it is sad to have Cancer as an adult there is nothing worse than an innocent child that has not smoked, drank or abused their body. One day healthy and the next day sick with Cancer.
Childhood Cancer is the #1 disease killer of Children!! 1 in 330 kids will get Cancer by age 20!! Where is the reasearch money congress??
My son has Leukemia, ALL. He has a great chance for survival, but we see far too many kids with other forms of Cancer that will die.
Please give to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Walk at Light the Night and Support Kids with Cancer!! Blood Cancer Sucks!!
I couldn't bring myself to watch Farah's story. I had a collegue lose his 4 year battle with colon cancer last month. Everyday he said he felt he could beat it, right up to the end. He got me through some of my own dark days of cancer, like the day I was told my cancer reoccured.
I pray for a miracle (a cure) for all cancer patients...partly for myself, and mostly for those that are really suffering and struggling. I'm doing great, and most people don't know my health status - and for that I'm thankful. Farah, and my collegues struggles are visible reminders of what lies ahead for me...someday.
I watched Farrah's story Saturday night and it was very hard to watch. I've had several family members lost to cancer: my uncle Dean to prostate cancer, my aunt Millie to liver cancer (she died two months after Dean did), and my grandmother was diagnosed with renal cancer (in the lining of the kidney) about the time she had a stroke in 2000. She died three years ago, missing the birth of her 10th great grandchild by a month. She was 91 years old, and had never ever been sick a day in her life. Of course it ran in her family also (she lost two brothers to it).
My mom's sister had cervical cancer but that was caught early as well as her husband, who had brain cancer. :;sigh::My father has prostate cancer but due to his failing health to heart problems, COPD and diabetes complications they can't do any kind of surgery. He's receiving prostate shots to shrink the tumor. So far he's doing well.
Now hubby and I, as well as all dh's family, are dealing with news of our 14 yr old nephew Dominic, being just recently diagnosed with ALL (but with a twist–he is high-risk, with hypodiploidy), and will have to have a bone marrow transplant. Rignt now he is having chemo and then full-body radiation so he can go itno temporary remission for the transplant. They have to find a match. So that was one of the reasons I watched Farrah's story.
I wanted to watch her special but my husband did not want to. The reason being, I am a breast cancer survivor of 5 years and cancer scares him. But I want to personally thank Farrah for being "raw and honest" about cancer, her thoughts, and what happens to family and friends of cancer. Sometimes I think that humans can only deal with a small amount of pain, suffering etc. and then we are put to a test and find out how absolutely amazing we humans are. Yes, death is real, dark, and follows us but we are unaware of its existence until it knocks at our door and stares at us. I have a tremendous respect for death but I love life.
It is comforting to see so many can relate and be moved by Farrah's story. Both of my grandfathers died of cancer. My Dad and His brother were diagnosed with prostate cancer within days of each other. My aunt has colon and anal cancer, that has now spread to her liver. And I go back for another breast screening soon......for a lump that is suspicious. I try not to hide from truth, I want to be known as someone who was aware.Farrah, god bless her.....gave us truth. I wish to have her bravery.
Randi: Thanks for sharing your story. You have a great personality that really shines through into the living room. I remember seeing you on TV in Minneapolis. You are a true asset to CNN. They are lucky to have you on their team.
I can remember when the word leukemia was equated to a death sentence. So when I found out my mother-in-law had leukemia I was devastated. She has "chronic leukemia" and is 91 years old. Her doctor put her on a daily pill and evidently that is all she has to do – it keeps the leukemia at bay and her doctor says she will probably live her full life span. Its amazing the progress medical science has made in the last few decades – I appreciate their progress because I am not ready for my mother-in-law, the nicest best grandmother in the world to my children, to leave us yet. I'm not sure I ever will be either.
I lost my Mum to colon cancer early last year, & it's still really hard to think about that time when she was ill, as she had always been such a strong & resilient person. Colon is treatable if caught early.
Thank you Randi for this article & sharing your story with us.
Randi my father died of pancreatic cancer a year ago and my sister and my brother were his primary caretakers. It was hard to see such a vibrant man, looking skinny and weak. Karen Weisz
I can't bring myself to watch Farrah's story. I've had enough of cancer destroying my loved one's lives. All I know is cancer truly is evil – something I would not wish on even an enemy.
Randi, I couldn't bring myself to watch the HBO Special either. When I was 5 my grandpa was diagnosed with liver cancer in April and by the end of May we were burying him. There are so many memories from that month...that even though I was 5 I just can't shake. But on the other had I've seen the miracles too! Be it my 22 year old cousin (seven years ago), newly engaged and newly diagnosed with leukemia...receiving a stem cell transplant and today he is married and has two beautiful little boys and is completely cancer free or to see a couple different women in my life beat breast cancer...
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Randi and for giving us the opportunity to share ours!
With all the money spent on Cancer research I am disappointed that we do not have a cure yet. The only advances seem to be keeping patients alive longer, the treatments haven't even advanced all that much. Sometimes I just have to wonder if it is just more profitable NOT to find a cure.
I didn't watch Farrah's story because I didn't think I could handle it .My mother is 49 years old and she has leukemia lymphoma ,she has been battling this monster for 3 years now and it has already came back once.
I don't remember the last time that we spent a day together outside the hospital.
Anderson thank you for sharing your story with us and I hope your mom stays cancer free and I pray for every person that has ever been effected by cancer in any way and I hope a cure is found really soon.
I am 35 years old and have spent the past year in treatment for stage 1 breast cancer. It is outrageous.
Two years ago yesterday my godfather died from lung cancer. A friend from college died of leukemia in her early thirties. My maternal grandfather died of colon-rectal cancer. My dad survived prostate and skin cancer. My paternal grandfather also had skin cancer and lung cancer although he died from heart problems and emphysema (amazing what years and years of smoking will do). My minor professor and mentor died of liver cancer. My dad's best friend died of liver cancer. My aunt has fought and won a battle with breast cancer and cervical cancer. Another friend is beating colon cancer. One of my parents' friends has beaten breast and ovarian cancer. It was thought that I had bladder and breast cancer (it ended up being negative both times). Oh, and my doctor says that since my dad had prostate cancer, I have a bigger risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. Being tested for markers this summer if possible. I am over vigilant on testing for everything. I have for years now paid premiums on a cancer insurance policy that will pay for treatment at MD Anderson in Houston (this is a cost budgeted each month). Cancer is too real of a possibility for me not to plan just in case. Wouldn't it be nice if America freaked out as much about cancer prevention as what they did about the swine flu?
I'm riding a tidal wave of news about people I know w/ cancer. I watched part of the Farrah story and taped the rest for later...it's too much right now. My mom passed way from Breast Cancer in 1998.
My neighbor has pancreatic cancer, I'm looking for nutritional info and healthy meals for her. There's alot of conflicting info out there. Like is Soy good for you or not. ?
Cancer touches so many of us, the best we can do is stay positive and supportive. Thanks for writing aboiut the subject.
Cancer? It's one of the major roots of my family tree. Some people get blue eyes, or a ski-tip nose. My family gets cancer. And look at the numbers. Good Lord, we are not alone.
The numbers. A recent forecast from MD Anderson predicted a whopping increase - more than 40% - in the percentage of people with a cancer diagnosis increase - a whopping one - between 2010 through 2030.
So let's extend the talk to research and prevention. Too many of us know what the treatment feels like; and how it is emotionally to watch friends and loved ones die of it.
Thanks for sharing your story....
Cancer touches all of us.
I watched Farrah's story and it was very painful to watch at times but like she said while she was vomiting " This is what cancer is." She has fought so bravely and with so much dignity – I personally found new inspiration in her story. I have been fortunate as noone in my family has suffered from cancer but I have had many friends who have. It is such an insidious disease. I pray for all who have this horrible disease and I especially pray that Farrah does not suffer much longer.
My family has been hit with cancer too my aunts my mother's sisters have had cancer .I'm sad to say of of whom did not survive and passed away in 1999 from breast cancer .My second aunt has been in remission from it for a 4 yrs now but she still smokes and it's scary . I.m glad your mom is ding better that's great news .
Thanks for sharing your personal story with us Randi
It's a terrible disease i pray they find a cure for it really soon .
I take issue with the statement in the article that "all we can do until a cure is found really is to show compassion for those suffering from it"
We are obligated to always show compassion, but we CAN and MUST do more. We can raise money, we can petition our elected representatives to provide increased federal funding and support for cancer research, education and early detection efforts. We must demand an end to cancer-causing practices by banning smoking. We must speak and fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. We must be advocates for survivorship. We must get ANGRY at cancer and say as one voice CANCER SUCKS!
My dad has lung cancer. For the forth time. Caused by environmental exposure. I am raising money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation and participating in the LIVESTRONG Challenge in Austin in October. I am going to ride my bike 90 miles. I am out of shape and I know it's gonna be hard for me to complete the course. But any discomfort I will feel will be diminished knowing that my dad, and all other cancer survivors, have endured much more.
I give Dad hugs and tell him I love him. I pray for him and his medical team. I pray for strength for Mom as she deals with everything. I show compassion.
But now, I am mad as hell, and I'm pickin' a fight with cancer. Dad's fighting like hell, the least I can do is fight with him and for him. CANCER SUCKS!
My aunt had cancer within 20 years ago. At that time the science had not so many resources.
Last year she had to redo the surgery. She was the last year, struggling with a healing.
My aunt is the woman most cheerful, happy, fighting, lively, interesting I know. My mother who does not listen to me, but no one is equal to her. Cancer never combined with her. Again she won the battle.
My mother was diagnosed with colon cancer on Oct.29,2008 and a day shy of the six month anniversary of her diagnosis, April 28,2009, my father was diagnosed with lung cancer. It had already spread to his ribs, spine,liver and some other place I can't remember... my mind couldn't keep up. Today May 18,2009 I wait for my father to pass. I ask God that he not suffer and that he heal my mother. The life I knew will never return and a part of me will die along with my father in a few weeks,days, hours who knows how long. My life and my heart will never be the same without my father.
My father smoked from the age of 12 and he too was a strong and healthy man. I never thought he would die from an illness. I always thought he would die from an injury because he has always been a dare devil.
Cancer makes me very angry... it's a type of anger I never thought I could feel. I hope I can make it through this but to be honest I don't know how I will.
I thought Farrah's program was very well made and was excruciating to watch, esp. the part when she had to shave off her beautiful locks of hair! She has gone through a lot to try to live, but unfortunately, it looks like she is near the end, despite all of her efforts and treatments.
With the odds being against all of us that we may get cancer in our lifetime, I CANNOT understand how people foolishly continue to smoke!! Sure, people get cancer that do not smoke. But lung cancer is caused by smoking and other cancers are at a higher risk due to smoking.
By far the biggest cancer killer – and the most misunderstood, and least funded for research – is lung cancer. People think that only smokers get lung cancer, so in some sense they "deserve" it. But tell that to the thousands each year who die of lung cancer who never smoked. At least 12% of new lung cancer diagnoses are for those who never smoked. Something like 400 people die each day from lung cancer. Now is the time to start speaking up against lung cancer – build momentum the way breast cancer advocates have done for the past 30 years or more. Love to all who have been touched by cancer.
I did not watch Farrah's story. My husband watched it. I couldnt.
My life changed drastically about 2 years ago. My husband and I bought our first home. A little over two weeks into it, he started feeling sick. After a lot of tests, It was determined that he had a very rare disease. Severe Chronic Active Ebstein Barr Virus. In short, Mono 24/7. His body is missing the gene that tells the disease to lay dormant. Well, before we could treat that disease, it turned into cancer. Lymphoma. He has had 3 stem cell transplants and we are preparing for the 4th very soon. We have a 3 year old daughter (soon to be 4) that helps us make it through everyday.
Our lives have changed. We are about to loose our home, Ive lost my job, and we had to relocate from the west coast all the way to the east coast for treatments at the NIH. We have no family here, but we have each other. I take care of my husband full time, and couldnt imagine being anywhere else but here. Even though we are loosing so much, it doesnt matter. We have each other and thats what matters.
I could not watch her story, because Im living my own. It is a very hard thing to go through, but you make the most out of everyday and try to stay as positive as you can.
Anyone that is going through this battle, keep your head up. Stay positive. There is a reason for everything that happens in our lives. We might not understand or want to except it, but there is a reason. Take care.
God bless you all with cancer and for those that don't have it, God Bless you that you never get it. Did I leave anyone out? I hope not.
My parents died of lung cancer from smoking cigarettes, even after I begged them to stop. They didn't believe it would happen to them. Also, two uncles from smoking related cancers. All we did for three years was go to funerals. The elder generation of my family died and no one is left to tell our history. The holes left in our lives will never be filled.
You get used to the silence, but you never get over it.
Randi, glad you Mother was spared. Twice. She beat the odds.
I also know about colon cancer. I was 47 when I was diagnosed and went thru 6 hour operation to connect my colon and spent 6 months in chemo treatment. Thank God I am cancer free, My mom also had colon cancer and she died from it at 79. My dad had it too but he survived with a bag over his stoma but succumbed to parkinsons disease at 80. I sure hope they find a cure for cancer.
I have had the opportunity to witness Cancer take two loved ones from my life.
The first was my grandfather; a self educated, brilliant man who was enlightened in so many ways. Except when it came to smoking. He smoked all of his life, starting when he was about nine years old, growing up in Mission, TX.
The other was my father. He died of Pancreatic Cancer, which he hid so very well and so very long from all of this. We all think of our fathers being like supermen; invulnerable; unbeatable. As I recal growing up; I don't think I ever saw my father sick with the flu or cold more than 3 or 4 times. It was awful to see how cancer ravaged this man. How do we defeat this modern day plague? How do we ease the pain of all those they leave behind?
I lost my Grandson Maxie to cancer in 2004. He had never been sick a day in his life and I can still here the words, "He has a mass in his stomach and it is most likely cancer."
He lived only 8 short or long months. Short because you want to be with them ever second and make life as full as you can for them but still long becasue of the treatment and pain.
The night they told us he only had days to live, his Dr. had to tell 3 other parents on his hallway bad news. I almost felt as bad for her as us as tears ran down her face. We need to do something about this thing that effects almost every person you know somewhere sometime. We just have to.
Maxie Lagourney's Grandmother
My best friend died four years ago, the day before she was to be the Maid of Honor in my wedding, from brain cancer...which was from skin cancer...which was from a mole that was mis-diagnosed in 2001 and came back as stage four melanoma in 2003. The skin cancer, I am sure, was from growing up in the 70's when we never wore sunscreen, but instead basked in the sun's glory slathered in Johnson's Baby Oil. All the "what if's".....
My husband's parents and sister have all died from cancer, or its complications. Both of my parents have battled cancer (skin and breast) and, so far, won. Several other friends are currently "cancer-free" after their own battles. Others are still fighting the good fight.
Cancer is heartbreaking, tragic, loathsome, and painful. Yet the people I know who have had it have always gone through their battle with the utmost dignity, courage, faith, perseverance, and grace. My best friend especially modeled those attributes to me. I was amazed to watch her go through that, and even more amazed at the way in which she gracefully passed from this world to the next.
43 is way too young to die. I hope that we can continue to have conversations about cancer and I hope that those conversations can lead to a cure. Oh for a world where no one is ever touched by this horrible disease again!!
I watched Farrah's story too. It was heartbreaking. I lost my mother, brother and sister to cancer. My sister had stage 4 lung cancer. The hell she went through was unbelievable. I will never get over the nonsense you have to go through with the Doctor's. They don't know their ass from their elbow. I pray I don't get cancer. I know too much now. It is very scary, and the suffering is unbelievable.
It's amazing all the money they raise for Cancer has not really done much from what I can see. They need to spend as much money on prevention.
My heart continues to break for all the pain I've witnessed when it comes to Cancer.
My prayer's are with Farrah and all that are still suffering.
We just passed the one year anniversary of my father's lost battle with cancer. I thought I was prepared, watching movies about those struggling with cancer that were so prominant in the 90's. Nothing prepares you for the truth of the war raged against a body.
My father died from Multiple Myeloma, or cancer of the plasma. I sat with him in his last minutes, watching him struggle to breath around the spit that collected in the back of his throat because he couldn't swallow. I couldn't touch him because I was scared that I would hurt him, as my mother had done before I arrived. I was with him as he fought for his last breaths.
The song playing on the television was, "Hollywood is not America". It sticks in my head because no amount of special effects could truly portray what happens.
We put a man on the moon. Now, let's take care of something that really matters and find the cure for cancer.
Watched my uncle die from cancer at age 41. It is a terrible beast. Have watched several people die from lung cancer and yet they smoked even while on oxygen, endangering the lives of their caretakers. Your mom is a real life miracle. I hope she knows that!
I watched Farrah tell her story, because she wanted us to watch it. Her story, her way, and in her words. Not tabloids, some blog, or some friend (of a friend) I watched her story, because I like her. I don't know much about her, and maybe that is why I like her. All these years she has stayed in the spotlight, and yet she was out of sight. That is a tribute to her life. She beat the tabloids, too. In the end, she beat them all. I hope she beats cancer. I have cancer, I probably will be okay, who knows, they told me the same things they told her. We'll see.
As our country continues to age, with the "boomers" well into their 60's, and average life expectancy also increasing, this country is about to see increased numbers of cancer diagnoses, like never before. We need to do more to educate people about prevention, screening, and what resources are available to them. As an oncologist in Los Angeles, it is astounding to me how little people know about this disease when they are first diagnosed. We have to remove all stigmas associated with this disease and begin a major public health campaign in order to educate our public prior to them being given a diagnosis.
I have not watched Farrah's story as I am not sure if I can handle it at this time in my life. My Mom passed away March 31, 2008 after battling lung cancer for 28 months. My emotions are still raw at this time, but after being my Mom's primary caregiver for all 28 months (on a full-time basis the last 6 months) I can honestly say EVERY person needs a patient advocate. I could tell you some stories! For example, the time that my Mom had a complete blockage in one of her arteries and the doctor said, "how long did they give you to live? You may not want to fool with this blocked artery if you don't have much more time." I get angry just typing it! Needless to say, the doctor had no doubt how I felt about his remarks...she got the stint!
God bless all that have been touched by cancer in some way!
When I was about 12 years old, my classmate’s mom died of breast cancer. I don’t know which hurt more, her death or the pain my classmate felt in losing her. She wasn’t my mom, but I cried for days. It made me think of and appreciate my own mom. I just can’t bear the thought of losing her.
I am glad your mom is ok now. I recorded the Farrah story and watched it later. She has shown great courage and because of her
sharing her story it will probably make many people take a second look at cancer. My family has also had it share of cancer, I had a grandmother die of cancer, my mom died of complications relating to
surgery for cancer and also a uncle who had treatable cancer.
Because of new treatments, drugs, and the fact that so much has
been done to educate people about cancer many people are given
a second chance to live a complete or longer life than ever before.
Everyday......... I repeat ...... everyday, 1479 Americans die of Cancer in our Nation. Can you imagine how upset we, Americans, would be .... IF...... everyday, a terrorist killed....... 1479 of us?
And...... here is another number, everyday..... repeat...... everyday......... 2500 Americans die ......... of Heart disease!
Sobering, indeed. All we have is today, this minute, this hour.
I saw Farrah's story on Oxygen on Saturday. It was a great look at what cancer really puts you through. I think everyone should watch. It shows, the good, bad and the ugly. It is extremely sad in the end seeing after all of those treatments that new growths came back. I hope that she can be cured and if not that she goes peacefully.
I've had several members of my family that had cancer. From breast cancer to lung cancer. Some survived while others didn't. You really learn to live each day for the moment and not count on the next day even being there. That is one thing that cancer really taught me. You aren't promised a tomorrow so you better live this day to the fullest of your ability!