Sometimes I feel that way, though I don’t think I have any right to.
My cancer was diagnosed in the early stages. I had ample insurance coverage and medical care. I was and continue to be blessed with loving, supportive family.
Whether it’s a blessing or not, I have a fighting spirit.
But if the tables were turned, if the disease had spread, if I couldn’t afford that medical team, would I feel the same? Would I still want to fight?
So many people are hurting, cancer or its treatments robbing them of even the smallest degree of normalcy.
Almost daily, life hands someone a blow.
I read their posts and hear their stories.
Some talk in terms of blessings and “dealing with it,” but others express anger, sadness and resentment. They see death as a relief, as freedom.
My heart breaks for them.
Just because I “breezed through” cancer treatments, doesn’t mean everybody does. I know that.
I know it can come back at any time.
I know that not everyone will survive. Not everyone wants to.
But this isn’t about me.
It’s about those who lash out in justifiable rage.
Those who say “that’s enough.”
Who am I to judge your anger and bitterness? Your choice to give up? Your choice to die?
What could possibly give me the right to decide what your limits should be?
This post is addressed to those who face challenges and decisions that are beyond understanding unless you are forced into them.
I don’t want to walk in your shoes. Quite frankly, the thought terrifies me.
Still, I want to shake you. Ask you why you would choose to give up. This is life. You’re supposed to cling to it. It’s supposed to be wonderful.
Remember Jimmy Stewart?
I don’t mean to criticize, only to understand.
Maybe your life isn’t so fairy-tale. Maybe the disease is ravaging your tired body and you’ve had enough. Maybe you can’t face another infusion, another round of radiation burning through your skin.
But how can you give up hope?
How can you leave your family, forcing them into a life without you?
Yours is a choice no one should have to make.
Is giving up selfish or is it an act of unrivaled bravery, a gift of love?
Am I the selfish one, wanting you to fight?
What if you don’t feel brave? What if you won’t, or can’t put on a brave front?
What if you don’t live up to the common media portrayals of smiling cancer patients with their perfect makeup and stylish head gear?
They do the walks, paddle the boats, all happy and strong, embracing recovery.
Where is your happy and strong? Where is your recovery?
What if your time is spent, not in a restorative yoga class, but in the bathroom, vomiting blood? Or tending to “business” at the other end?
What if there is no “other end”, but a bag that you have to rely on someone else to clean and change because you’re too weak? What if that someone is one of your kids?
What if you’re left with parts missing? A leg, arm, breast, jaw?
Maybe your head feels like it’s splitting wide open. Every. Single. Minute.
Maybe there aren’t enough drugs on the planet to ease the pain you live with day in and day out.
Let’s say you have successful surgery that got the cancer but left you feeling so disfigured by what’s left that you can’t bear to look at yourself.
I think you’re beautiful.
Maybe your personality doesn’t jive with rallying the troops and prepping for the Paralympics, but is more in line with hiding away, unable to imagine a future worth fighting for.
You have every right to complain, to cry, to lash out, to quit.
But I selfishly want you to dream, damn it! Hope! Fight!
I love you.
I don’t want you to go away.
I want cancer to go away.