Time was we didn't say the word. Then we would say "C" with just a bit of whisper, admitting we knew what it was but were still very scared of it.
Many of us have continued to be scared of it.
My acquaintance J. has said we no longer should be afraid of cancer, he's had several bouts of treatments for skin lesions, and has the most positive outlook of any I've heard.
Another friend, R. has survived breast cancer with remission over the last 5 years (I think) and she has continued to have a very positive outlook on life. She speaks of her attitude as being crucial to her survival.
Today 2 more people have been tested for cancers.
First my friend, T's brother is hospitalized suddenly and is not expected to be discharged, with several areas of his body full of cancers. T. is shocked, as well as many others in his loving family have been. This man has spent many years being the joking jolly man who cares lovingly for a huge extended family. So he will be having many visitors now, as his life winds down. I'm hoping that he has an easy time of it, as well as T. as she says goodbye.
Dealing with out-of-town hospital visits and her full-time job are among the things on T's mind right now.
Then on FaceBook tonight, I was surprised to see my 50 year old son's face smiling at me, with a huge bandaid glued to the side of his face. He said a biopsy had been taken, and the doctor's office didn't have any small bandaids. So he will know in a few weeks if it's cancer.
I think that cancer means cells that replicate fast and take over the usual place healthy cells used to be. They kind of eat up the surrounding tissues, and replace them. Some of them may just exist in our bodies for years and never get any bigger, or grow any faster. We all may have some that just don't need treatment.
In my own limited understanding, some of these turn into fast growing cancer that responds to surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy. It's all a great oncological mystery to me. I don't spend time looking on line for the latest medical information.
Then there are the monsters. Those are the ones that appear in our essential organs (the ones that we can't live without)...and they take our lives fast.
I grieve still over the dear people that have struggled with one or another form of cancer, and lost their lives eventually. They made different choices dealing with the illness, based on who they were, what kind of disease they had, and treatment options.
I noticed that PBS will start broadcasting on March 30, a series done by Ken Burns titled "Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies," based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee. I saw the initial interview "A Conversation" in which Katie Couric interviews Ken Burns, Sharon Rockefeller and Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee. I want to see the rest of this informative programming.
I have to wonder if I will someday have the diagnosis myself, from one part of my anatomy or another.
Many of my friends spend a great deal of time, money and care to eat as healthy as they can, and have the types of habits that promote their health. I hope that effort pays off for them. For my life, I have decided to cope with the chronic conditions which I already have, and have only minimal preventive strategies. I no longer smoke, and I wear sun-block.
Whatever may happen between today and the day I die, I hope I am able to keep being creative in one way or another. And I hope that my facing my own eventual death calmly and without cringing fear will be something that I can share with my friends and family.
Acceptance of death, that's what it's called. I sleep cradled in the arms of my own death, knowing it as familiar, and that it's comfortable but not macabre. Why pretend otherwise? I'm much closer to it in time than my birth, but each year I count my birthdays.
Whatever people have believed as to what happens after this life, it does end for each of us, (in different forms of course) and then we will find out what that "next actually is."