On Cancer

You know how sometimes people compare gossip to cancer? “Gossip is like a cancer, it can keep spreading until you can no longer stop it. Best to nip it in the bud and stop it while you can.”

The thing is, gossip isn’t like cancer. Because, unlike cancer, each individual has active control over working to stop the gossip. Not cancer, though. Despite your best efforts, your doctor’s best efforts, your family and friends’ best efforts – sometimes it just doesn’t stop.

Here is what I have learned about cancer so far in the last three months:

1) It is stealthy. If you’re lucky, you catch it early. But sometimes you’re not so lucky; you and everyone around you are going on through your day-to-day lives, totally unaware of this sneaky thief that is here to slowly drain you of your health and maybe even your life. And sometimes, by the time you find out, it’s too late. It’s irreparable, past the point of no return, leaving you and your loved ones and your acquaintances and your pets and your everything to face the inevitable end that has just become closer than anyone could’ve imagined. It really is sneaky, you know. How it can just be in your body without you even knowing – invasive, really.

2) It is unfair. I debated between using arbitrary and unfair, but settled upon unfair to express my distaste in cancer’s choice of victims. Forgive me for stating the obvious, but it’s utterly unfair that cancer shortens lives unfilled. Sometimes it feels like the kindest, smartest, funniest, sweetest people have to deal with this monster. And the most patient, loving, supportive caretakers are left to pick up the pieces left in its destructive path. Even regardless of personality, everyone is someone’s somebody – and so it is unfair that cancer exists. It is unfair that a life is cut short; it is unfair that there is suffering; it is unfair that all the treatment in the world might not be enough to stop it.

3) It is hurtful. Maybe it’s weird to describe cancer as “hurtful,” as if it’s some comment that damaged my feelings, as if I feel owed an apology. But it IS hurtful: physically and emotionally for the patients, families and friends. I have watched it hurt those around me in the last three months and felt helpless to stop it. You can pay for the treatments and hope for the best, but cancer doesn’t care and will rage on, or come back, hellbent on hurting everyone in its way. You can cry, and yell, and fight with all your might, but cancer doesn’t care and will go on its selfish way, indifferent – ignorant? – to the hurt it causes. You can love someone with all your heart, but cancer doesn’t care and will crush your heart into a million little pieces, leaving only fragments made up of memories and a love that will always linger.

In the last three months, I’ve learned that cancer will kill, but that somehow, life still goes on. I’ve learned that as it strikes, it brings desperation, desolation, depression to those around it.

In the last three months, I’ve learned to appreciate life as I never have before; I’ve learned how impactful someone can be without your consciously realizing; I’ve learned that tears of hurt are born from a heart of love.

In loving memory of my paternal grandmother, my coworker (current job), and my manager (past job). 

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