Sunday, January 24, 2016

Hanging on to Hope

Last week I posted this on my facebook page

Sometimes I reach a point where not only do I think I will eventually die of cancer, but basically all of us will. Unless we're hit by a bus or some other freak accident first.
Because lately I can't seem to go a day without reading about a cancer death - from someone in my circle or a celebrity. Or learning a friend/acquaintance has just learned they have terminal cancer or that treatment has stopped working.
And while my first thoughts are about that person, my second thoughts are much more selfish. And it's hurting my heart and my head so very much.
Someone else chimed in that he was feeling the same way, but feeling like a jerk for thinking of himself. Last night at a in-person meeting, someone else said it was hard for her to hear all this news too. 

It is comforting to know that I'm not the only person who hears the recent news and doesn't feel stung by it

I know I didn't know any of the celebrities we've lost recently personally, and yet, if even they couldn't manage a way to out-science cancer, how can I? How can any of us? 

Right now, it feels that every time I turn around, someone is dying. Of cancer. Famous people, non-famous people, men, women, parents, children. When does it end? 

How do I hear this news and hold onto hope? Hope that I'll be here in 5 years? Hope that I'll be here in 10 years? Or 15? Will I see my kids graduate high school? College? Will I see them get married? Have children? Will I someday be sitting at a family reunion, with my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren?

In a few months I hit my 5 year cancerversary. 

5 years.

5 years is supposed to be a magical number. Just get to five years and you're good, right? 

At my last appointment, the oncologist and I talked about how 5 years isn't the magic number. There isn't really a magic number. But, he did say, if we can get to 10 years, the chance of recurrence drops off a lot. It doesn't disappear. 

My cancer could come back in 11 years. Or 21. Or even 30. 

Money won't make my cancer not return*. Fame won't make my cancer not return. Being rich or famous doesn't mean cancer can't kill you

There are times where I wish I could insulate myself from learning about anyone's death from cancer. Sometimes I think I need to stop talking to people with incurable cancer. Sometimes I think I need to not watch the news. Sometimes I think I need to just hibernate, pull into myself, and ignore the wider world around me. 

And yet, that's not the answer either. I have made some really beautiful friendships with people who are dying from cancer. It is hard to lose them, but I think my life would be less if I had never met them. 

It is hard to lose family members. And friends. 

And yet. I love knowing them. I love the relationships I build with people. I love them, even if I know that there might be a hole in my heart later because I'll have to say good bye to them. 

That's just from my perspective. Can you imagine having incurable cancer and then all your friends backing away because it would be too hard to be your friend? I can't even. And I don't want to be the person who does that. 

But it's still hard. It still hurts my heart. And it still hurts my head.         

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