Tuesday, March 10, 2015

I Hate Cancer

Up until a year ago, I felt very disconnected from cancer, what people who have cancer, and those who love them, go through. Although, like most, I have some personal experience with the disease, but nothing quite "hit home". My Gramps died of melanoma, but he had also just lost my Grams and he felt "ready" and "gave up" on life. Although he passed from cancer, we have always associated it with a broken heart rather than a horrible disease. When my dad was a child, he had leukemia, but he beat it and it has never returned. I have also had many years of being asked if I have cancer, due to my hairless head. But I have never really known someone when they were battling such a relentless, heartbreaking sickness.

This all changed last year, when one of Nolan's pediatricians passed from breast cancer. I knew all about her battle as she confided in me the day we met, as most people in her position do (I assume my baldness helps them to feel an instant connection). However, when I last spoke with her, just 3 months before her death, she was in remission, feeling well, and in positive spirits. It wasn't until her passing was announced at the doctor's office, that I even knew the cancer was back. So fast.

About the same time that we learned of her passing, Joe came home with horrible news. His friend and co-worker was diagnosed with leukemia. In the last year, he has gone through cancer, chemo, and remission, several times. Each time resulting in incredibly optimistic highs followed by crushing, heart-wrenching lows. In the past week or two, he went from finding a partial bone marrow match in a family member, to being told that he is not healthy enough for a transplant. The cancer has taken over his body. There is nothing left that can be done, but hope for a miracle.

Just as the school year began, I learned that one of my past students (a family I know well, as I have had three of their children- so far) was also battling this horrible disease. She too has gone through chemo, a bone marrow transplant, and is now getting stronger and stronger each day. I am so happy for the path that she has found herself on. I am thankful for the friends and family that surround her, for the doctors who have kept her strong, for the donor who shared his healthy bone marrow, for her strength, and for the long, healthy life that is stretching out in front of her.

Throughout this past year, my thoughts on cancer have changed. Now, being asked if I have it is not annoying. I know those who ask are either looking for a connection or they are offering support. Either way, they are good people. Good people whose lives should not be darkened by cancer's awful shadow.

I hate cancer.

I hate that the bravest, strongest, best people on this planet leave us too soon. I hate that family and friends have to suffer as they watch their loved one suffer. I hate that no matter what we do, no matter what medicines we try, no matter how much love we share, or support we offer, sometimes cancer still wins. I hate feeling powerless, helpless, and heartbroken. Waiting to hear news we have always had hope would never come.

I am not religious. However, several times over the past few days, I have prayed for a miracle and I will continue to do so. For all of these people. For all who cancer touches. For everyone.

I hate cancer.

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