In my latest blog, I talk about how cancer has affected my life, the lives of those I love, and dealing with loss and grief.
Seriously. F@#k cancer. F@#k it so hard. I want it to be completely eradicated from the human lexicon. I don’t even want the word to be a distant memory in the backs of our brains. I hate it, and I hate that people have to deal with it so much.
This blog is not going to be a pleasant blog, readers, and I do apologize for that. I’ve held this pain and this hate in my heart for so long, and I need to get it out, otherwise it could consume me. I know this is out of character, but I’ve always said that I’m going to be upfront and honest with you, and this is what I’m experiencing right now.
Cancer isn’t fun to deal with for anyone, and unfortunately, it was my turn to be selected on this cancer wheel of misfortune. You see, my grandmother recently died of cancer. She was an incredible lady who took both me and my younger sister in and raised us when my mother died. In effect, she was my mom. Cancer took her away from me, from the family. After her diagnosis, she didn’t make it a month. It was an aggressive cancer, but we didn’t have time to figure out exactly what type of cancer it was. It doesn’t matter now, and I’m not sure if knowing would give me some measure of peace or satisfy this gnawing, morbid curiosity.
I don’t really want to talk about the science behind cancer. Instead, I want to talk about what cancer does to those who have it and the ones they leave behind. My grandmother was an absolute trooper. I think she knew that she wasn’t long for this world. I never saw her complain, even through the worst of it. She comforted the family that came to see her, giving us the encouragement that we needed to keep going. She still wanted to participate in her church and would ask the elders to pray for others in the congregation who were sick. She said that when she was in the hospital, which blew my mind. I suppose it’s a blessing that she didn’t suffer, even though the family did.
It’s a difficult thing to deal with. I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t affect me, change me in some way. I’m still grieving over her loss. I find myself crying in my quieter moments. I go back and forth between being relatively okay and an emotional quagmire. I know I have a grandma-shaped hole in my heart. I think everyone understands that those that they love will eventually pass through the veil, but it’s never a real or tangible thing. It’s just an abstract concept until it actually happens, and we come face to face with mortality. In my case, it’s not that I’ve gone through life without dealing with death. I have, but it’s never been this hard, this personal. I don’t hold out any hopes for recovering. I just want to find a way to continue plodding along as best I can. I always thought she would be there, and now I get the pleasure to make my way in this world without her.
I’m sure that others in the family are going through the same thing, if not more. I see my aunt, who was my grandmother’s primary caretaker, still powering through everything, trying to settle her affairs. I know it’s hard on her, and I try to help her as much as I can. I feel bad for not being there, but every time I go over to what used to be my grandmother’s house, I’m filled with overwhelming sorrow. I feel like I’m not supposed to be there, and it eats at me.
I think about my sister, if she knows what’s going on, if she can feel it like I can. I see my cousin, who is very open about his grief, more open about it than I’ve been. I want to reach out to him and help him, but I have no words to say to him. I don’t know how the rest of the family is coping. I hear from them every now and then, which is fine since I’ve always been a bit of a black sheep. I do wonder what they’re doing to get through the day, how I can emulate that and make it my own.
I think about my friends who have lost loved ones to cancer. I wonder if I’ve been a good friend to them, if I reached out like I should have, just to make sure that they’re okay. I do have a couple that have reached out to me. Mostly, it’s me reaching out to them when I’m feeling particularly despondent. This act, of course, makes me feel even worse because it forces me to acknowledge that I’m going through it, which I determine as weakness. I know it’s crazy, but I’ve always been the strong one in my circles, so to not be strong is a new feeling that I dislike greatly. Then, I get angry.
I wonder how all of this happened, why she got sick. I get upset thinking about how all the doctors said that there was nothing they could do. I get angry about the stupid tumor that attacked her heart. I’m filled with guilt, wondering if there was anything I could have done to spot it, to force her to go to the doctor’s earlier. I feel alone, like there’s no one else that I can talk to about this. After all, who wants to talk about cancer?
Finally, I get hit with an epiphany. I know I’m not alone, but people don’t have a venue to really talk about how cancer has affected them, at least not without pulling someone else into their spiral of misery. That’s why I choose to write this blog, not to drag anyone down, but to reach out and say that you are not alone, readers. I walk along this path with you, no longer silent but as an equal partner. It’s only lonely because we choose to isolate ourselves.
Cancer is insidious and pervasive in so many ways, to those it affects and their families. It worms its way into us and changes who we are, right down to the core. We can’t let it. We have to fight back constantly. We can’t let cancer claim us.
Walk with me, readers. Tell me how it’s changed your life. Let the world know that you are fighting back. I won’t let cancer get the best of me, even on the tougher days. I want you to be strong enough to say the same. Because f@#k cancer. We won’t let it define us.