Saturday, March 21, 2009

What I would say to cancer...

Christie sent a link to this amazing video: "What I Would Say to Cancer." Take a minute to read the Fat Cyclist's thoughts and readers' comments, too. (By the way, it's clear that most people do not have any qualms about using all the war/fight/battle metaphors.)

What would I say to cancer? I think it would be very different than a year ago. As I've said, I may be the only person to weep with relief at the diagnosis of cancer. It was proof that I wasn't crazy and there was something wrong. I wasn't happy to hear the diagnosis, I was just relieved to have the mystery solved.

Today...I might say something like...

Look, Cancer, I know it's your biological imperative to invade "x" number of people every year. I hate that you took my mother's best friend, her only sister. I hate that you can steal a kid's childhood, or the best years a parent can share. I hate that you can turn a senior's golden years from quiet peace and dignity into an intrusive physical and emotional attack. I wish you hadn't signed me up, but frankly, I'd rather take the hit than pass it on to a kid, or a young parent. And I've already figured out that no one gets out of this game alive. I might just have a shorter playing season than most.

You are the selfish, cruel, farty roommate who just won't take the hint and move out. Still, you brought a lot of surprises and blessings with you. I can't say I'm glad to have the experience, just that every step of the way, there have been more silver linings than dark clouds, something that came as a total shock to me. I have been given the gifts of clarity and perspective, the blessings of gratitude and humility, and respect for the kind of courage that is not yet part of my personal repertoire. (In ways I am still discovering, you have made me a better person, but I would have been perfectly content to go on being a mediocre person.)

So I'd like us to find a way to tolerate each other, because the fighting just depletes me too much, and after more than a year on the frontlines, I just haven't got a lot of fight left in me. Can I live with you, like diabetes, or a virus? Can we just coexist without constantly assaulting each other? That would be my ideal situation: to feel that cancer is a part of my life, instead of the sum of my life.

You're just a pathetic mass of mutant cells, Cancer, and even if you do take my life, I know that's just one part of my existence. I will live on in the hearts and minds of those I love, and those who love me. In their acts of kindness and generosity. In their thoughtful, prayerful, grateful moments. Even in the artful things I've created, to share my love of beauty and comfort. You can deprive my spirit of my body, but not the other way around. Your spirit is a fleeting nuisance, Cancer, but my spirit is rich and pure and eternal.

So, pththththth!

3 comments:

John said...

You said, "there have been more silver linings than dark clouds, something that came as a total shock to me."

Amen to that Nancy. I could not agree more.

Thanks.

tk said...

So then if you die, does it mean that you didn't fight hard enough, that death is somehow your fault?

tim's wife said...

Great post! Really beautiful.
I'm amazed and humbled. Girl,
you MUST write that book and include your posts.