Yesterday I celebrated, what I'm calling, my second birthday. It was my second second birthday. Two years ago yesterday I learned I was officially NED (no evidence of disease).
This is similar to being in remission. Or maybe it's the same thing, and they changed the terminology. I don't actually know. I just know that according to my doctors, there is no detectable levels of cancer in my body.
Yesterday a friend shared that he has a tumor. In his spine.
I'm so incredibly pissed for him. It's so unfair (it is always unfair but even more so when it hits a friend). I hope someday he can celebrate a second birthday, or a canciversary, or a NEDiversary, or whatever he wants to call it. I hope his treatment is easy and the tumor isn't large. I hope his spine is okay and that however they treat him goes as smoothly as possible.
I'm holding my friend in my heart tonight and in my prayers.
Those are the things I say. I say them because I mean them. And I hold those thoughts near to me when I think about him (and all the others I know going through cancer or other issues).
However, there are a lot of things I don't say.
I don't say, you're strong, you can beat this. Cancer doesn't care if you are strong. It invades your body and has caused many, many strong people to leave this world much too soon.
I don't say, just stay positive! Because cancer sucks. And treatment sucks. And side effects suck. And sometimes you need to get angry or mad or sad and that's okay. Positivity is not a cure for cancer. It's okay to be positive about it, if that's how you truly feel, but denying your feelings isn't healthy and sometimes you will not want to smile. That's okay.
I don't say things like God doesn't give you more than you can handle, or this is God's plan for your life. I'm sorry, but no where in the Bible does it say you won't be given more than you can handle. And I know a heck of a lot of people who were handed some pretty harsh things that were more than any one deserves to handle. Cliche sayings like this don't help, or at least don't help me and many others I've spoken to.
These are the things I might have said in the past, but no longer do. Cancer is an effing bastard. It leaves so many hurting, leaves so many in dark places. It takes those we love from us. Being treated for cancer is not a war. It is not something only the strong, positive people win. People don't lose the fight with cancer - it is not a war to be won or lost.
Cancer is something you get, you hit with the best science has to offer and hope that somehow you come out on the other side NED, with no sign of the cancer left. It doesn't always happen though. Sometimes the science and the medicine isn't enough.
That's not to say I don't think my friend is strong, that I don't think he will do all he can, that I don't hope he gets to celebrate second birthdays for many years to come. I just know that cancer is a jerk. And can take anyone, regardless of if they are strong or not, young or old, smiling or crying.
So I don't say these things. I say other things. The things I believe to be true. And hope that my words, while they can't cure cancer, do touch people's hearts.