No one wants to get a cancer diagnosis. No one wants to have a loved one or friend who gets the diagnosis. For those of us who live with metastatic cancer, regardless of the type of cancer, it is another reminder that despite the progress being made with new drugs and treatments, we are still a long way from a world where cancer is no longer the devil who picks and chooses its victims without discrimination and often, without warning – ruining lives, families and hopes for the future.
Because I have lived with cancer through myself and others, I am especially sensitive when someone I know gets bad news about their cancer. I’ve lost family and friends to cancer, but it never gets easier. Although the grief eases, it never heals completely. My sadness for them can make me feel guilty because I am doing well, but I watch with awe the dignity and grace with which they face the disease that is slowly taking their lives. I wish I had the right thing to say to them or their family members. I applaud them for being so open and realistic about their illness and wonder if they realize that they may be leaving a lasting mark on another person – one that can be so empowering, it can never be measured and will never be forgotten.
One of my metsisters has been told her options are running out. She writes a blog and posts frequently on Facebook. She will never know how much her honesty, openness and courage in the face of reality has helped me and continues to support me in my own journey with stage 4 breast cancer. She is my hero and I have told her that many times. (Several years ago, before my mets diagnosis, one of my closest friends passed away from breast cancer. I never told her how much she taught me about staying strong in the face of devastating reality. I will always regret not doing so.)
A much-loved family member recently finished whole brain radiation for lung cancer that spread to his brain. My heart is breaking because for many reasons, not the least of which are the wonderful childhood memories I have of spending time at his house with him, his wife and daughters. (Back in a time when families visited with their families on Sundays.) He was always so funny and always had the right thing to say to make everyone laugh. I was a “step child,” but he and his wife never treated me any differently – even long after my mom step-dad divorced. I wish I could do something to ease her fear and sadness, but I don’t have a magic wand to make everything better.
We all deal with adversity in different ways, but there is no right way to process a cancer diagnosis. It’s different for every patient, every family member and every friend. Diagnosis: Cancer can be the worse news we will ever get, either for ourselves or for the people we love, but not letting cancer define us and our lives may make the difference between keeping our heads up, or drowning in a sea of despair. In the end, all we can do is the best we can do to stay strong and not let the cancer beast defeat us.
Don’t Stop Believing!
May you realize that even in your darkest moments, something wonderful and amazing can happen that will change your life and remind you to never stop living for those rays of light that will take away the dark.