“When You Treat a Disease, First Treat the Mind”

Written by: Ness Fraser

On September 1st, it’ll be a year and a half since I lost my mom to cancer. While we will never know exactly how it happened, the doctors assume that she had lung cancer that spread to her brain, which is where we found it when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer in December of 2008. Three months later, on March 1st 2009, my mom died at 50 years old.

The saddest thing is that my story is in no way unique. There are thousands of people who lose friends and family members from cancer every year; thousands of people who are left without mothers or fathers, aunts or uncles, brothers or sisters. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, “In 2010, an estimated 28,200 people will die of cancer in Ontario, and 65,100 new cases will be diagnosed.”

The mocking visage of Ashley Kirilow

Statistics like that are what makes Ashley Kirilow’s actions so disgusting. For anyone who missed Bryan’s article from a couple days ago, go check it out here. Kirilow, who allegedly (and elaborately) faked having cancer to raise a little spending money (to the tune of $20,000) is now released on bail, but is facing an eight year prison sentence if she’s convicted of her crimes. As Bryan mentioned in his article, “she has issues, that is most certain” (no kidding), but I can’t help but wonder what would possess any human being to do something so disrespectful to so many people.

She blatantly made a mockery of anyone who has battled cancer, died from cancer, or lost a loved one to cancer. I’ve seen first hand how cancer ravages a person’s body, and I promise you it’s not something one should exploit for money. Ever.  As part of her punishment, I would really like to see Kirilow spend some time in a cancer ward with real human beings who are dealing with such an awful disease.

I wonder how her view on the disease would change after seeing mothers whose bones are so cancer-ridden that they can’t get out of bed to go to the washroom, so they’re now confined to wearing adult diapers. I wonder how her heart would feel to see men who can’t remember the names of their children because the cancer has destroyed their brain and stolen away who they once were. Or how she would feel after playing with the children that may never get to be adults. I wonder if her opinion of cancer would change after that.

Because of cancer, my mom didn’t get to see me graduate. She was too sick to remember that I had applied to college, or be happy for me when I was accepted. She won’t be there when I have children, or to see me get married. I had to watch my mother die from a disease that Kirilow thinks is just a way to make money. What she did is so far over the boundary of acceptable human behaviour that it actually makes me feel nauseous.

While I would never wish cancer on anybody, I hope that one day Kirilow gets a wake up call that teaches her that cancer is no joke. It’s not a way to make money, or a way to gain public sympathy. While Kirilow’s hair will grow back, there are people sitting in hospitals right now knowing that they will never again know what it’s like to have a head of hair – they won’t live long enough to experience their next hair cut.

Before anything else, Kirilow needs to issue a public apology. An apology to the people fighting cancer, beating cancer, dying of cancer, or who has been affected by cancer. And I think she’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t fit in any of the above categories. That’s a lot of people – and she better start her apologies soon, some people don’t have long to wait.

– Ness

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