Three months ago I sat in a sterile hospital room, next to a person that I had attended grade school with, and held her hand while she was told that her mother was riddled with cancer. It looked as if it had started out as pancreatic cancer, had now spread throughout her entire body. The Doctor was kind as he explained to them that he had no real idea what the timetable was going to be but he didn’t think it would be long. I watched my old friend as the news started to seep in, and I realized that I have no idea how to comfort her. I looked to the other side of where I sat, and saw her brothers both turning a shade or two whiter while they both grabbed ahold of their wives hands.
I saw fear.
Today I hear that she will be burying her mother in just a few short days. I still have no real idea how to comfort her. How could one ever be comforted after losing a parent? First of all my parents are alive and well, a blessing that I will take as long as possible. Second of all, I haven’t gone thru it myself so I really can’t say I understand. I’ve never had to face cancer in the face like that. I have faced it through a healthcare workers vantage point, and as a friend to someone who had a friend or family member go thru it. I watched my sister go though it as her best friend lost the fight.
Being faced with your own mortality has to be life altering. Just knowing that your own body is turning against you would be devastating beyond words.
Cancer is a mean, vengeful asshole who doesn’t like to take no as an answer. The fight is usually brutal. It strips you of your innocence in a matter of minutes, and never allows you another glimpse of it. All you can do is grab ahold and go along for the ride, having no clue where it will let you get off. You fight to keep your dignity and your pride, but more importantly, your life.
I am moved beyond tears, beyond words for the people that fight this. For the people that survive. For the people that are left to survive the loss.