Doctor Eclectic

Doctor Eclectic
Doctor Eclectic

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Children of Cancer Patients

The other day in the Chemo Bay I visit a couple times a month, I found myself between two older ladies, one who was anxious as to how her 3-4 year-old granddaughter would react if she lost her hair and one accompanied by her grown daughter and a friend, who had lost her hair and proudly wore a bandana celebrating the 4th of July.

As their conversation roamed through how to shop for a wig and how much they cost and, more importantly who was the best wigmaker in this area of wealth and opulence, I found myself remembering my niece who was diagnosed with recurrent breast cancer some ten years ago.  At the time she was young, late thirties, drop-dead gorgeous, and contending with, not only her cancer, but a husband who seemingly had enough of her cancer foolishness.

On the heels of that memory, I was reminded of a presentation by Eva Grayzel at an AADA Leadership Conference I attended with Mary.  Eva was a Broadway talent in the true Chorus Line model, who probably would have been lost in the Ensemble credits had she not contracted Oral Cancer, one of 6,000 who die each year of 40,000 diagnosed in the United States.

Ms. Grayzel gave a very inspirational and informative presentation that included how her case management was delayed and her case misdiagnosed.  She was asked to present at an annual conference for the ADA but was quietly moved to the background because the ADA was involved with a newly launched diagnostic tool and was more interested in a campaign to promote it than in linking oral cancer incidence to something that might have a preventive component, namely a vaccine.

I asked her why the numbers of oral cancer patients per 1,000 population in the U.S. had not changed since Mary’s grandmother was diagnosed in the 1950s and she said we are not very good at recognizing affected people early.  We also are seeing a new cause; unprotected oral sex with multiple partners with resultant infection by Human Papilloma Virus.  This has now become a cause celebre for me.

She also said that her daughter, a tweener at the time as I remember it, blamed her (Eva) for at least three years for “Catching cancer”.  It turns out that this is not an uncommon response of children, who believe the world centers them for each event. And the patient is partly to blame for the weakness that causes the cancer and the changes that may occur.

That was likely the condition that Jackson Hunsicker was attempting to combat when she enlisted several topline fashion photographers to highlight the beauty of being bald in her book, Turning Heads    If you get or read the book you will find my niece on page 50, by far the most striking model in the book.

My sister-in-law graciously donated a book to my chemo bay and I saw to it that both the women mentioned above read it.  I was pleasantly surprised to hear that it has become extremely popular, on display with the magazine and a quick read, since it is essentially all pictures.  Thank you, CeCe.  I’m sure Julia is very pleased.


In my next post I will share with you the surprise Mary and I had at our grandson’s twelfth birthday.  I hope to see you there.


  1. Dr Eclectic, my chdilren, still to this day 18 years after my treatments for cancer, have emotional scars. If I were to give your readers one piece of advice, I would say, be sure to get counseling for children during a loved ones cancer treatment. Someone outside the family could change the course of how they think and feel about illness. If you need a resource of children, visit

    1. Very interesting, although not entirely surprising. Thanks for your comment, for correcting my spelling, and for remaining an inspiration to so many.

  2. I would say, be sure to get counseling for children during a loved ones cancer treatment. Someone outside the family could change the course of how they think and feel about illness.

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