Editor’s Note: This piece was submitted by a contributing writer and does not represent the views of CURE Media Group. Dear Cancer,
I thought I broke up with you in 2009. Wasn’t it obvious that we had no future together? I let a toxic drip run through me each week for 15 weeks to chase you out of my life. I was never interested in a permanent relationship. We had no future together. It was so important to move on from you that I almost self-destructed in the process.
If this chemical message wasn’t clear enough, then what about my six weeks of radiation? This seemed like straightforward, break up talk. I burned and nearly branded myself to show you what I am capable of to get rid of you. Admittedly, I got you out of my body, but I can’t get you completely out of my head, although by no means will I give up trying. We continue an estranged relationship. When you burrowed deep within me, from some spun out-of-control place, you infected, attacked and shattered me with a stage 3 diagnosis.
We went at it like boxers in the ring, didn’t we? You: tenacious, menacing and intimidating. Me: hoping, wishing, praying to stay on my feet in the ring and survive. Many times I was battered with scars both visible and invisible. Seemingly unstoppable, you won the battle some days. I, however, won the war. Let me be crystal clear, dear Cancer, that I made good use of our terrible time together. I redirected myself. Frightening and unwanted, you definitely disabled me. But don’t dismiss that you also enabled me.
My unexpected outcome from my time with you was that you healed my life. Yes-- healed me. Even though you’re in my head some days, your toxic grip over my mortality has faded. The scars have, too. And most wounds. And while this happened, I fought for my life. At the same time, realizing my surprising bravery and resiliency, and how they got rid of annoying you. Cancer and possible death were the two situations I was most afraid of in my past life, but I can presently say “been there, done that.”
I survived you and all your demons, anxieties and fears that you bring along. Your twisted “gift” gave me more compassion for myself and especially for others. I practice healing, and witness so many brave others also trying to do so. I have used you to become better. Moving beyond anger, despair and uncertainty, I stop to breathe, step back and let in renewal and recovery. Take that!
As with any dysfunctional relationship, not even the toughest bodies and souls can erase the trauma. Maybe this is to have those "lesson learned" moments. I still at vulnerable hours feel lingering anxiety, worry and fear and hear unhelpful voices in my head. This is the baggage of our bad relationship.
Let me continue my conversation with you, dear Cancer, and be clearer. Your random, death-choke attempt on my fate taught me amazing things. You did not take everything from me. Your attempt was callow. What you left behind helped me achieve something more useful. The parts that you left behind are helping me help others deal with their problem relationship with you. Leave me alone. Our relationship is done. Be warned. There are many strong, resilient, people I have warned about you. They will also work hard to break up with you. Believe me they will succeed.