Monday, June 3, 2019

I Hate Cancer

I don't usually use the word hate. I don't like it very much, but today, I will.

Today I got an email from a friend sharing the news that one of her friends was just diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. My friend was reaching out wanting to know how she could help this newly diagnosed friend. As I read through the email, I was not only sad, I got mad. I wasn't mad at the sender. I was mad at the disease.

Everywhere, it seems, cancer continues to invade and decimate the lives of unsuspecting men, women, and children. Every single day, I hear of another case of cancer. For some reason, once you've been diagnosed, people assume you're an instant expert on the disease and I'll admit, I have learned an awful lot over the past 5 years but there's still much to know and understand.

Naively, I keep thinking one day they'll find a cure for all forms of cancer, but when I think of how much money the big pharmaceutical companies are making from treating the disease, I doubt that's true. My heart hurts for all those who've gone the traditional medical route. Chemotherapy, radiation, and antihormone therapy wreak havoc on the body and many times cause irreparable damage. Many people don't know they have a choice not to go the traditional route and doctors don't offer them the choice. It's up to the individual to do their own research or learn of the option by word of mouth from another cancer survivor.

More than likely, cancer has been around for hundreds of years but doctors back then didn't have access to the medical information we have today. I'm sure many people died of cancer that was left undiagnosed or was misdiagnosed. And they may have lived for many, many years with the cancer growing inside their bodies while they were completely unaware that anything was wrong at all. In fact, the oncologist told me that most of the time, by the time a lump is felt, it's been growing in the body for ten years or more. That's a scary thought. How many people purposely check their bodies every day for lumps, bumps, and bruises? Not many.

All that being said, I'm completely disgusted with cancer and yes, I do hate it, but I'm also grateful for it in my own life. It's been a great teacher. It's taught me to slow down and see things differently. That may be a hard concept to grasp for some but it's true. Before cancer, I took so much for granted. Now I don't take a single moment of a single day for granted.

I do still suffer from the side effects of treatment and complications from surgery. Those are little unexpected gifts that cancer left in its wake. And while I wish I didn't have to deal with the aggravating condition of lymphedema, muscle cording, and so many other ill effects of cancer on my body, I'm just thankful to be alive.

It would be amazing to live long enough to see a cure found for cancer, but I doubt it will happen in my lifetime. In the meantime, I pray daily that none of my loved ones will ever be diagnosed. I think I will always hate cancer and I think it's okay to feel that way.

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