Yeah, I’m pissed. I’m so fucking angry for the people I love, having watched another member sucked into the macabre dance that is terminal cancer. It’s not enough that the cancer robs people of their health, their light and their choices, but it sucks the family dry emotionally. I have watched my Chris and his entire family watch and wait for the icy claw of death to claim their husband and father, and honestly, there are few things more heartbreaking. No one deserves to have this happen to someone they love. Living in Cancertown means surviving in a war-torn community, full of false hope, anxious days, exhausted and spiritually depleted members. I am so FUCKING SICK of having people I love hang in the balance, waiting and watching to see when IT will finally happen.
Well IT happened.
Chris’ stepfather is gone. If you are a regular reader, you have read some of the stories he has shared about Paul HERE , HERE and especially HERE. While I was sleeping, my love got the call he’s been dreading for the past year. Paul passed away during the night, and all Chris wanted to do was get to his family’s side. Like everyone else, he has had to stand by and watch while Paul got sicker, and his amazing mother got more worried, scared, and tired. Being the main support and care for a terminal cancer patient has got to be one of the most difficult, lonely and gut-wrenching things I have ever witnessed someone go through, and I didn’t see more than a fraction of it. I am in total awe of Pat, and of her infinite capacity to love and give of herself. She is truly one of the most amazing women I have ever had the honour to know, and if I am ever half the woman she is, I will be so happy. I know why Chris is such an incredible man; He was raised by an incredible woman. I am so sorry for the pain and heartache she has experienced, and I am glad she has six kids to help carry her for as long as she needs until she is able to learn how to live without cancer. That may sound like it would be a blessing, but I am pretty sure she would live the rest of her life in Cancertown if it meant that Paul never left.
Having a family member in the grip of this illness is like a never-ending roller coaster of bad news. There are the endless doctors appointments, and then the sleepless nights waiting for results to come in. Once a diagnosis is made, there is a treatment plan and the start of a fresh new set of injustices. Pain and intense sickness from chemotherapy and radiation await the patient, and months of anxiety and strain for the family ensue, everyone wondering if the poison being pumped into the loved ones body is working, and if so, how well? After months of steady decline in the name of preserving precious days, months, or years of life you begin to realize that the ‘life’ that has been preserved is full of pain so severe it changes the personality of the person, and robs the patient of the ability to enjoy these hard-earned days of extra time. Honestly, I have no idea how Paul’s family has endured this again, I really don’t. But the craziest thing of all, is that this scenario is being played out in millions of families all over the world every day.
It is hard to quantify the massive casualties that cancer claims globally each year, but here is some statistics pulled from the World Health Organization (WHO) :
“In the year 2000, malignant tumours were responsible for 12 per cent of the nearly 56 million deaths worldwide from all causes. In many countries, more than a quarter of deaths are attributable to cancer. In 2000, 5.3 million men and 4.7 million women developed a malignant tumour and altogether 6.2 million died from the disease. The report also reveals that cancer has emerged as a major public health problem in developing countries, matching its effect in industrialized nations.”
Let’s break this down a bit. As of twelve years ago more than 10% of the population died of cancer, and in some countries, it was almost 25%. Yes, this is a fucking PROBLEM. This statistic doesn’t illustrate the stories of the millions of people who die, or the billions of people who love those people. And there doesn’t seem to be a fucking thing we can do about it. Well, that’s not exactly true, is it? We can eat better and smarter, quit smoking, and improve our general health, but even so, cancer will still be around, and that’s just a sad, fucking fact.
Tonight I will gather with our family and grieve for a great man. A man who loved to hunt and fish, loved his family, collected all kinds of cool tractors, was a great ball player, a bit of a scrapper in his day, a husband, a life-long friend and so much more. I hope that what cancer reduced him to will not be what he is remembered for. I never knew Paul when he wasn’t a cancer survivor, or a cancer patient, but I enjoy hearing the stories of what he was like. Tonight I will greet my future Mother-in-law and wonder what words I can say that will let her know that I am so sorry for the loss of her best friend and partner, and for all the pain she has endured because of this horrible fucking disease. I will try to comfort my future brothers and sisters-in-law, even though I have no idea what could possibly make it better. I know these are the people I will call family for the rest of my life, and I am so fucking angry that there is now one less of them. I lost my own father in a moment 4 years ago, and I could tell them that the ache never really goes away, but that they will learn to live with the joy of their memories of their father. I can grieve with them as a person who loved their dad, and loved her dad, and who knows how hard it is to lose a parent.
Back to the topic at hand, and believe me, I wish I COULD change it. Cancer sucks. I hope it never touches my life again, but based on the WHO stats of 12 years ago, I can gather 12 of my favorite people together, and know at least one of them will get it, and almost certainly more. That makes me sick, and so sad, and it’s just a fact of life. So I will see you again, Cancer, but I dread your return to my cozy existence. Fuck You.
No there ain’t no good in goodbye,