I just got word that an old friend, someone I've known for 20 years - well, his cancer is back. It's big, it's bad, it will mean a stem-cell transplant in Seattle this summer. I told him I knew someone else that had done the same thing a few years back. I didn't say what happened in the end, but that guy is dead.
Right now it seems like everyone we know is fighting some kind of cancer. Often, they're not winning.
The New York Times had an article about cancer a few weeks ago. It cleared up the confusion I had felt (or dimmed the hope I had felt) because Lance Armstrong once had cancer in his skull and now seems better than fine. It said, "It turns out that, with few exceptions, mostly childhood cancers and testicular cancer, there is no cure once a cancer has spread. The best that can be done is to keep it at bay for a while."
That is a hard and ugly truth. You can read the rest of the article at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/24/health/policy/24cancer.html?_r=1&sq=cancer&st=cse&scp=9&pagewanted=all