It’s a harsh world, facing the reality that it’s almost a norm to have at least one family member suffer from cancer. They aren’t wrong when they say cancer creeps up on you and turns a majority of your life upside down.
Suddenly the movies and books about cancer not only intensify your emotions – they tangle them all up. All those stories on Chicken Soup for the Soul start making sense. You can bet I cried my heart out watching My Sister’s Keeper. Augustus Waters and Hazel Lancaster will always have a place in my heart. Of all the Nicholas Sparks movies, The Last Song affected me the most.
Putting yourself in the position of the characters, fictional or not, affected by cancer has become inevitable. You think “hey, maybe i’ll learn a thing or two,” but most of the time you just end up puffy-eyed by the time the credits start rolling.
Nothing ever comes close.
Everything starts to feel urgent.
You force yourself to be more responsible. You take better care of yourself to keep them from worrying.
No one really talks about how the medication tends to take over their emotions. Or how you’re constantly torn between wanting to go on with your daily routines as ordinarily as possible to make them feel normal, and doing everything as soon as possible because you’re afraid of “wasting” time.
Support comes in all forms.
Treatment period took us through good times and bad. In more ways than one, we’ve grown stronger as a family.
You rekindle relationships with family members. You also discover who your real friends are.
Furthermore, prayer and support groups welcome you with open arms to remind you that your battles aren’t meant to be fought alone.
But not everyone will know what to say.
I would never wish it on anybody, but you never really understand the dreaded “C” word until a loved one experiences it.
Just recently, a “Challenge Accepted” Facebook dare of uploading black and white photos to supposedly raise cancer awareness went viral. Not one ounce of it appealed to me.
Those with cancer themselves have even spoken up, saying “there are much more productive things people can do to support people affected by cancer… Do you really think someone with cancer will be happy because you posted a narcissistic picture with an arty filter? No. They won’t.”
Sometimes bringing up the future feels like walking on eggshells. Reminding myself to remain cautious with my choice of words has become a reflex, and I hope others will do the same.
Thankfully we’re way past the chemotherapy and bandana days. Mom’s hair has grown back curlier and more natural than ever. We’re now able to occasionally joke about her “uneven” body parts.
We no longer bring it up as often as we used to – and it’s completely okay. It’s okay to learn to accept the reality of it all – that things, and mom, will never be the same again.
Finally, even though we’re constantly reassured that the “bad cancer cells” are gone, the worry will always be there.
No matter how much research you do, there’s no way to prepare yourself. There’s no “right” way to feel. Scientists keep talking about a cure for patients, forgetting that we too, suffer along with them. There will always be hope. But the fear never leaves.
Now, every additional minute, hour, day, week or year is more than a blessing.
It can consume you, but you don’t have to let it.
Everyday is a perfect day to be grateful.
Donate to Stand Up To Cancer now, and watch the show Friday September 9th at 8/7c on ABC, FOX, CBS, and NBC.