Holding onto the anger that a cancer diagnosis provides can be a ruinous exercise, here's how one cancer fighter tries not to look back at his cancer with anger.
One of my favorite songs has always been “Don’t Look Back in Anger” by Oasis. I remember first hearing it back in high school. The chord progression just seemed to reach out from the speakers, like whatever you’re doing, stop and pay attention! Then came the catchy anthemic chorus, just begging to be sung along with and finally, Noel Gallagher brought it all home with a sizzling electric guitar solo.
I love this track so much that I actually chose it as the last song at my wedding. By then, the title felt much more symbolic since Kori and my first wedding had been canceled after the year of treatment, after the surgeries and multiple recurrences. I mean I’d really been getting my ass kicked.
And while I had a fair case to make in feeling so, I rarely recall feeling angry at cancer.
There was this incredible shock. I grew scared, depressed, and after a while, outright exhausted. I’ve cried and screamed in frustration at the circumstances, but it didn’t sit well with me, directing hatred at “cancer”, like it was another person who’d intentionally done me wrong. If anything, I view cancer as the result of some cause and effect that we don’t entirely understand yet. Maybe it's harmful chemicals added in products, or radiation, or the stress or in many cases—just bad luck.
The day I received that first call back post-MRI, the “don’t google osteosarcoma until you meet a specialist (but we’re almost positive that’s exactly what it is)” phone call— I broke down in tears afterward. My legs grew weak. It was an insane amount of pressure to suddenly take on.
Fortunately, after I regained composure, a wave of acceptance washed over me. My immediate next thoughts were:
This is what’s happening. There’s no going back. What’s the next move gonna be?
I was lucky for that. It kept me thinking and acting productively. Moving in the right direction.
Of course, repressing emotions isn’t healthy or productive either, so if you are furious at cancer for ruining your life or taking someone, you love— please, cope however you need to cope. But hopefully, you can find outlets for that feeling because there’s also the idea that when you hold onto anger, you’re only poisoning yourself. And that’s the last thing any cancer fighter or caretaker needs.