Oh geez, where to start...
I was 40 when I got thyroid cancer. My husband was 40 when he got cancer, too. Both of us got throat cancer within a year. A very strange coincidence!
Oh yes, I freaked out when my husband got cancer. I took him in for what was supposed to be a simple 45-minute outpatient procedure to remove a "cyst," and two and a half hours later, a whole team of doctors finally came out to tell me the bad news. I was 8 months pregnant at the time, and alone. I remember doing my Lamaze breathing in the hospital hallway to calm down! We'd been through all this infertility stuff, and we were finally going to have a baby, and they said he had a 50-50 chance of living for 3 years!!! Yeah, I definitely freaked out!!! I had to pull it together fast, though, because I had to be the one to give him the news.
When I found out I had cancer the next year, I was more angry and frustrated than anything else. They told me up front that it was an easily curable type, and they'd caught it very early. But we'd been through so much with my husband's cancer and the new baby, I was sick of having to handle too much. And now this! Grrrrr!
The doctors never would say what caused my husband's cancer. But I was relentless. After 6 months and a dozen doctors, one finally told me, "We never see this form of cancer in non-smokers." Hubby had smoked since he was 15. He quit the day he found out he had cancer, and he has never had one since. He can't. They told him it was no longer "a risk factor" for him. The toxins would be going right over the site of the cancer that was removed.
As for me, I've never smoked. The hormones that kick in during pregnancy are the same ones that promote thyroid growths, so that's why they're so common during and immediately after pregnancy. But almost all are benign. Mine was too, but microscopic cancers cells were an unexpected lab finding. I suppose I was lucky I had the benign growth, or they wouldn't have found the cancer until it was likely too late. But I sure didn't FEEL lucky! I do believe all the stress I was under at that time was what made me ill.
No, I've never known anyone who got cancer and refused treatment and lived. Maybe there's somebody out there, but I've never heard of it. When the diagnosis is cancer, you do whatever you have to do to stop it. Sometimes that means you have to live with the consequences. But it's better than dying. Ask my husband, and he'd tell you it's been well worth taking pain meds to be a father and get to watch his son grow up.
The radiation caused him a lot of pain at the time, but none later. It was the surgery that left him with permanent disfigurement and pain. He is very stoic about it. He knows it's the cost of being alive.
His aunt has refused treatment, and now they've even let her stop taking maintenance meds for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc. She's free to enjoy eating whatever she likes, and she's loving it! She has had no pain so far, and they say she may not. But it's spreading rapidly, and she's getting weaker and weaker. She sleeps a lot these days.
One of these days, you should read something by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a specialist on death and dying. It's very, very good. She maintains that death and dying are natural parts of life, and we cheat people by withholding information about their impending death from them. She believes that by going through the natural grieving process, one comes to an eventual acceptance of one's own death that enlightens their understanding of their own life, and of life in general.
You're growing up, Gracie. And you will find that some things in life are just...hard. But life is worth it.