There is a funny thing that happens to you when you survive cancer. (all of us are survivors from the time we are diagnosed until the time we die – even if we are still fighting) Cancer starts to define your world. Suddenly you see cancer license plates and t shirts everywhere. You see women with chemo head and ports tucked under pale people’s shirts. You see children who have chest scars like yours and you see people who are obviously loosing the fight if not to cancer, then to another terrible disease that mimics it. I was in Walmart one day and a young teenage girl stopped dead in her tracks looking at my scar. She slowly unwound a scarf from her neck and I saw a fresh thyroid scar. I seriously teared up. We had an instant bond, and it hurt me to see what she had gone through at such a young age.
Perhaps this happens with all major diseases, I can only speak to cancer.
Another funny thing seems to happen. Some nameless, faceless, bodyless thing becomes your enemy. You rail against it, you hate it, you curse it, you hope against it, you talk about it, you want to tell people what to do to “try not to get it”, you answer questions in a grocery shopping line or the museum check in area. When the lady behind you sighs and takes a step closer because she can’t believe you are taking up her valuable time by talking to the cashier about cancer, you shoot her a withering look as if to say “I am talking about CANCER here, lady – step back and wait your turn, cause this stuff matters!!!”
I found out today that a person I knew growing up died of Kidney cancer. He was the father of several girls in my age range. Last week the mother in law of a cousin died of cancer. She had fought it far too long.
I feel like I am personally being attacked when this happens. When someone I know, or know of, is diagnosed with or dies of cancer, or has it return… I honestly feel like it’s a personal attack. I don’t know why this happens, or where it comes from. I do know that I’m not alone. Many of my “thyroid cancer sisters” I’ve met over the internet feel the same way.
I may not know where it comes from, but I can put into words EXACTLY how I feel, because they run through my mind every single time.
“Hey cancer, fuck you! We have had enough of you in my corner of the universe. You need to get out because I dealt with you long enough that no one I ever know or even know peripherally should ever have to deal with you again.”
I truly feel this way, in my core.
Yet that’s not the way it works. I have had several friends contact me to say their parents or other relatives have cancer. Most of us have a friend or two that go through cancer in their lives. My grandmother died of lung cancer, my other grandmother had to go through treatments for breast cancer (luckily caught early), my father had prostate cancer. It doesn’t matter how long you fight it, or how hard your battle is, it doesn’t exclude you or your “clan” from having to deal with it again. THAT is why cancer is a ruthless, evil, downright ugly piece of no good garbage.
I wish that my experience could save my son from this fate. I hope he never has to see another person he ever knows go through this. But the chances are not only that someone else he loves will go through this, but also the chances of HIM getting it are higher, because he has it on both sides of his family.
Cancer sucks. It sucks big time, and I hope one day to see better treatments and better preventative medicine in this field.
Until then I suppose I will just keep fighting it in my life, and hating it in other people’s lives.