They say the good die young, but maybe we’ve been looking at it wrong this whole time.
Every time someone I love has died of cancer, I ask the same question.
Why can’t criminals (pedophiles, murderers, rapists) die this way? I can’t think of a more cruel way to go.
For me, cancer took its first casualty when I was 20. Rhonda was someone I considered a second mother. Throughout her life, she played the role of subordinate wife to a rude, overpowering, often violent man who didn’t appreciate her. But she went about her daily tasks without making too much of a fuss. She focused on her loving daughter and troubled son, and did everything she could to keep them happy.
Seldom would I see her get angry; she kept it bottled up inside and just kept living the life she was given. She had undetected cancer for almost a decade; breast that eventually developed into bone. She was 48 when she passed.
The second came in the form of an editor of mine. Sarah was absolutely lovely and fun-loving, always with a great big grin on her soft face. She actually cared about people, which is tough to find in the media industry, but the company she worked for didn’t give a shit about her.
They stood her down when they heard about the diagnosis, though she continued to work for them on a casual basis because she didn’t want to let them down – even though they asked her to produce a pregnancy and baby magazine (the treatment for her ovarian cancer meant she would never become a mother, as her reproductive parts had to be removed in an attempt to try to fight it). She was just 39 when she passed.
Most recently, another friend, Taylor, was diagnosed just weeks before her 40th birthday. They discovered she has a rare malignant melanoma of the ovaries.
After all her feminine insides were taken out, she went through months of chemotherapy, radiation and immunotherapy. I thought we were in the clear. Then, just last month, she sprung me with some very unexpected news.
“Today I got the worst news since this whole cancer saga kicked off,” she said.
“Despite feeling fab, immersing myself in chemo and looking normal, it’s spread rapidly and significantly now, through my lungs and liver. I’m utterly crushed, devastated and dumbfounded.”
And so was I. How could this happen to such a beautiful person? I mean, what does lung cancer even mean? That every time she takes a breath, she’ll be breathing cancer, the way a smoker does when they take a puff of their cigarette? It’s not like they can take her lungs out the same way they could her reproductive organs.
Taylor’s devastation turned quickly to rage.
“You know how I never, ever swear? Like, ever? Well, FUCK YOU, cancer!” she cried.
She wasn’t being facetious – she really never swears.
It breaks my heart that after all of the years of cancer research that’s been conducted, a cure STILL hasn’t been found. Every time I lose someone, I get so angry; where do all of my – and everybody else’s – donations go?! Are these “researchers” sitting back in labs spending our moolah on doughnuts and pay TV?
After the anger, I reach the stage of hope. Possibly the worst part in all of this is that I truly believe it’s possible to beat cancer, but this track record seems to prove otherwise…
And then it struck me. These beautiful women all had one thing in common: they never burst out in anger in public, they always found the best in people, and they would’ve given you the shirt off their back if it meant you wouldn’t be freezing cold.
I only befriend those who are the absolute greatest. Bitches are never offered a place at my dinner table. I like to be the most opinionated one there, and perhaps that’s my downfall in this crazy adventure we call life; I end up loving those who keep their opinions to themselves – but keeping negative emotions bottled up is toxic, perhaps there’s even more of a connection between stifled feelings and illness than we know.
I guess what I’m trying to say is perhaps it’s time all of you introverts get up on that soapbox of yours and make a big hoo-ha about whatever’s pissing you off. Some of the feedback may not be great, but that’s when you pick up the microphone and yell even louder – because you know what? The alternative could be way worse.
Images via weheartit.com and via giphy.com.
Comment: How has cancer affected you?