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    For yesterday's Big Game, I bought along a snack food that I have taught myself to love in spite of its citric bite and the shock to my sensitive tooth fillings: grapes.

    We began discussing the grapes and my forced adoration because of my kidney malfunction. My fellow players knew that I did not drink alcohol but were unaware of the reason. I explained my particular kidney malfunction and said that when my kidneys fail, the amount of water I can consume will be limited, but gaining water through natural food sources is a different quality of water. Nothing holds natural water like grapes and watermelon. Grapes, I like. Watermelon, not so much.

    It also occurred to me in the tellilng that I have developed a nonchalant attitude toward my problem. I know that I am in Stage 2 of ADPKD, that my liver is already affected by the disease, and that eventually one or both organs will fail. I know that when that happens, if I survive the initial failure, I will be added to the tail of a rather long list of people in need of a kidney and/or liver transplant. My options will be severely limited, and there is no cure apart from a transplant, but why tilt at windmills? It could be worse.

    Yes, there's worse.

    A friend here at The Fort has cancer, and her family is devastated, obviously. We all are. She has children at home as well as her husband, extended family, and friends. She's trying to fight it, and we're all pulling for her in our own way.

    As much as my diagnosis was a shock to me, I already knew that ADPKD was a genetic malfunction, and that there was nothing to be done but get my body healthy in all other aspects in an attempt to prolong the inevitable. Cancer, on the other hand, is completely different. There are things that can be done in a lot of cases, but they're pretty much all frikkin' miserable treatment programs, with hair loss the best of the side effects. While some cancers are hereditary, most come out of the blue. Sometimes the cancer is very tough to beat, and sometimes it just won't quit.

    Her situation and that of Mister's friend from school have opened my eyes to the surprisingly large number of people I know who've either had cancer themselves or who have had someone close to them with cancer. It's absolutely shocking how many! It has also brought to my attention the disparity in treatment options when insurance is inadequate or unavailable as well as how some hospitals deal with that situation.

    My father's wife discovered a lump in her breast. A biopsy turned up cancer. Because she had no medical insurance, the cheaper option was to perform the double mastectomy with reconstructive plastic surgery later than to even attempt chemo/radiation.

    Luckily for my dad's wife, the oncologist who confirmed her diagnosis had staff privileges at the one hospital in the tri-state who would allow her surgery pro-bono. Well, not so much pro-bono as "we know you won't pay us, but we'll pretend we don't," and they did not refuse to treat her. A big thank-you from me to the hospital, because even though I don't like her much, she takes care of my father and I don't have to.

    I have my own problems, but they seem so small when compared to the crises of others. As much as I would love a non-surgical cure for my problem, cancer really needs it more.

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