I didn’t really understand death, until my best friend’s mom died of cancer. She was a warm and lovely woman with a great smile and a great laugh and over the years she had battled a lot of demons. She had been in a lot worse places than me and if she was telling me I’d be okay, I knew she was right. Her cancer was already stage 4 by the time it was found, and her body was riddled with it. I still think about her all the time.
Right now, I can think of three individuals facing cancer. Of the three, one is suffering from esophagus cancer that has spread, inexplicably to me, to his hip, another, a brain tumour and the last, breast cancer. Two are in my extended family and one I do not know, but I know a part of her support system and I know she is hurting too.
Last year, the mother of my childhood friend struggled with breast cancer. In that same family, her sister also battled with it, twice, and lived to tell the tale. Their mother did not survive her breast cancer. I feel like I am just biding time until I hear that my friend is struck down with it as well. So many stories – My aunt is a breast cancer survivor, as is my friend TK’s mom.
The year before that, the wonderful man who stood for my husband’s confirmation, died of an inoperable brain tumour.
I feel like cancer is in the air, it’s everywhere, that maybe you catch it by breathing, like a cold. Perhaps by touching a surface or hand contaminated with a virus.
My uncle has cancer. For years I’ve thought to myself that I should get to know him better. What a cool guy he is, so funny, so witty and sharp. But you know how it is, you waste time, you don’t get around to it, you’ll make the effort tomorrow, next week. Until one day you find out that maybe you’re not even going to have the chance to get to know him better. And now there’s this huge monster in between you and are you really brave enough to tackle it.