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A Letter to Cancer: Fighting Back

Take back control in the midst of an uncontrolled situation.
PUBLISHED November 17, 2016
Kim is a nursing student who is hoping to find her place amongst the phenomenal oncology nurses and doctors who cared for her sister. She loves reading, volunteering and enjoying the outdoors of Colorado.
I have thought for quite some time about having a conversation with the illness that has ruled my life for so long. I didn’t even know where to begin, because I knew that it would be left unread, thus make little sense. I have since taken up reverse journaling my cancer journey and through that, I finally found the right words to write that letter.

I will not begin this letter with the usual “Dear C____” because you are the six-letter word that forever changed my life on July 11th, 2014. You changed my definition of normal, turned the world of my family upside down and made me see life so very differently.

When my sister was diagnosed and we formally met, I didn't even know where it was that I should begin. It now occurs to me that the biggest challenge in battling you is actually getting to know you better. Unless personally affected, one would never have a need to know disease differential or the chemotherapy regimens that would need to be used to destroy you. At the age of 23, those facts became my reality. Although you are often spoken of in society, we still fear you as if you are a monster hiding in the darkness. In so many ways, you are exactly that.

Most get angry when they hear about you. Everybody wonders why it is that you choose the ones you do. You cause anger, depression and uncertainty in the lives of those you encroach on. You have an effect that goes so far beyond that of the one you victimize. And while we clearly have no choice in the situation that you put us in, we do have a choice in how we react to your unwanted presence.

To learn about you – and at times obsess about you – has empowered me. You prey on the most vulnerable and attack the weakness that you cause in them. You are a battle in a much larger war that we have been and continue to wage. I am confident that we will win and that your long list of causalities will come to an abrupt end. For those of us who fight for somebody we love, it is our job to make sure that the warriors who die are not lost in vain.

You are an illness that the human body was not meant and should never have to endure. I will never say thank you for your presence in my life. My life has changed in remarkable ways these last two years, but what will never change is my desire to not have you in my life. Science is ever-changing. We are on the cusp of finding many new and efficient ways to eradicate you.

What you do not understand is that you have inadvertently lit a fire within me – one that will forever burn with an insatiable desire to destroy all that is you. As I and others like me fight with endless determination to find a cure, you are losing places to hide. You will no longer be able to run, and your name will soon only be used when people say, “I had cancer.”


A future oncology nurse
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