Cancer… the pain and memories this one little 6 letter word can bring back. Anyone who’s had cancer, fighting it now or was there with someone during their fight knows exactly what I mean.
Lately, I see so much hate on social media…politics, religions, sexual preferences, etc. While this does make me want to respond, I do not. Today and this month in particular, I am finding more and more people with posts about showing the “truth” behind breast cancer. Rightfully so, it is “breast cancer awareness month” and all. What is getting me is that these “truth about breast cancer” posts are coming across angry. I feel these posts are going to lead to so much more hate and bitching on social media and the internet.
Let’s take a moment and think. If you are in a public area while you read this, look around. I am willing to bet that at least one person walking through that mall, store, what have you…is dealing with cancer somewhere close to them. Hell that person could be walking around trying to stop worrying about the test results they should be getting any day now to see if they have cancer of some sort. That one person could be looking for a gift for a child that was just diagnosed. You just do not know. That person could even be you…
When someone has cancer, it isn’t always realized. Cancer patients will have good days and bad days and even worse days. They don’t walk around holding a sign that says “give me your pity because I have cancer”. They are likely trying to hide it from anyone possible because of how often they do have to face it. It is never an easy fight. It doesn’t matter if you have stage 1 or stage 4. It doesn’t matter if you have a “common cancer” or a “rare” cancer…facts are facts: the shit is rough. It’s brutal. It’s ugly. And it hurts.
But keep this in mind…there is beauty in cancer. Don’t attack me just yet, stay with me here and I will explain.
I am not a cancer survivor in the traditional sense of surviving cancer. I did not have cancer attacking my body or chemo and radiation treatments to rid my body of this destruction. However, my mom did…as well as others in my family and some friends families. I call my mom out in this for a very real, very strong reason. My reason for calling my mother out doesn’t mean someone else’s cancer experience was any less important or hard or anything. I call her situation out because I was about 10 years old when she was diagnosed. My sister about a year, maybe two.
This is a little rough of a story for me to share. I haven’t really even discussed it with family, let alone expressing it amongst complete strangers. This IS a situation that I do brag about though. I brag because of my mother’s strength. I brag because of our bond. I brag because of our family. I brag because WE won!
My mother was diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma about 25 years ago. But it took a while to get to this result. She got sick and rather quickly. My step-dad took her to the emergency room where they came back with the result of Pneumonia. When she came home I watched her. I studied her. Every move. Every word. I analyzed it all…at 10 years old. You could say I had her under a microscope. She was my mom, my best friend, my life…I was worried.
After carefully watching and analyzing my mother, I sat her down one day and expressed my concern. I begged her to get a second opinion. I told her something just wasn’t right and that she needed to see another doctor to get better. She smiled, naturally with her heartwarming smile. She then gave me the look of: “you’re just a kid, not a doctor” but told me she would be ok. I did not give up on this. Yes, I was a kid and no I was not a doctor but dammit, I know my mother! She was the one thing I knew very well at that age.
After I begged and pleaded and eventually nagged…she finally got a second opinion: non-hodgkins lymphoma and it was covering pretty much everything on the left side of her body. Well shit…
To make a long and painful memory short: WE fought through it together. WE went through the chemo and radiation treatments. WE dealt with the hair loss and “sunburned” skin. WE went through not eating properly or being able to hold food down at all. WE did it!!!
At about 10 years old I witnessed cancer rearing its ugly head. I watched cancer slowly eat away my mother’s life. I watched cancer make the strongest woman I knew look weak. I was there at her side every possible chance I could be. I helped her when she was sick. I suggested shaving her head and man was she super cool after she did. Cancer sucks.
So no, I am not exactly a cancer survivor in the traditional sense but I did survive it with her. Remember earlier when I said there was beauty in cancer? Here it is…my mom was diagnosed with a rare cancer at a fairly young age. My mom’s doctors gave her 6 months to live. My mom said (figuratively) “I’ll see your 6 months and raise you over 10 years!” My mom, me, my step-dad and my sister…along with my family’s support…kicked cancers ass!
My mother lived way longer than expected and was able to see some of her grandbabies before she passed. My mother dealt with the aftermath of this cancers destruction for many years before she passed…but SHE LIVED!
The beauty in cancer is watching a grandmother holding her grandchild, knowing she was living past her medically given time. It’s seeing a child running outside and making friends after being put in remission. It’s seeing a family pull together to help one family member fight the grueling battle ahead of them. It’s what will show you, every single time, just exactly how precious life is. That is beauty in cancer.
With that being said: let me show you the beauty in what seems to be pissing so many people off lately. I see the comments about “saving the tatas” and expressing hurt by other slogans dealing with breast cancer. While I am not belittling your situation or saying you are wrong, step aside a minute and look at it from a different perspective. Loads of slogans are out there in some way shape or form to “fight cancer”. You have colors, awareness ribbons, walks, marathons, etc. ALL of these things are being worn by and for cancer patients! These things are all part of “the cause” and the “fight against cancer”. These things are how people show their support in situations they CANNOT control. These things are how people grieve over a loved one who lost their battle to cancer.
Don’t get me wrong, there are corrupted folks out there amongst us. But if you do your research before investing in your cause, you will find that the legit folks have the same slogans, puns…whatever you want to call them. I personally think the whole “save the boobies” thing was to get men more involved in a typically female predominant cancer. (Yes, I know men can get breast cancer)
I think we are forgetting the purpose behind the walks, marathons and ribbons. I think we are all forgetting to research a company or charity before investing our time and money. I think we all need to stop, hug your survivor, visit your friend or family member and get back to fighting against cancer…instead of talking shit. You, and you and you…you all fought and you all won. Your situation is no better or worse than the next persons. Fact is cancer is a killer and you got out of its grasp!
Let’s team up and keep gaining more members on the team of kicking cancers ass!