Why Doesn’t Cancer Make Sense?

A woman in remission from her cancer ponders why the disease seemingly chooses to steal certain lives and spare others.

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I was told the average time to live was 104 months. After my initial shock, I felt like I would get increasingly worse, the chemo wouldn’t work and I would gradually pass away.

Thankfully, the journey has been much different than I anticipated. I often describe it as a roller coaster. Initially, I was on oral chemo for six years and then progressed to shots in the stomach for two years. Eventually, I went back to oral chemo for a year and now am in remission. I receive shots to keep up my blood cell counts but no chemo. I have lived past the 104-month benchmark and my doctor tells me it is a miracle.

However, I have lost several other friends to this ghastly disease. One of them fought two kinds of cancer for 16 years (and a heart attack), and finally gave up on the horrible chemo because it was not working. Another one was apparently doing well, then went into a coma and passed. Others have gone through the trauma of surgery, radiation and chemo and now have NED (no evidence of disease).

My mother used to tell me life isn’t fair. It would upset me even when I knew it was true. Cancer is a random disease that takes some people prematurely, while others survive for years. Do I suffer from survivor’s guilt? You bet I do. I do not understand why some people survive and others don’t. Each one of these deaths of people I love hits me like a ton of bricks and I ask why them?I know I could be next and feel guilty I am still alive.

But if we think about it, life is like that. My father used to tell me we were not supposed to know about the future. We all know the family that was killed in a terrible accident and then hear about others who survive unbelievable crashes. People die from brain bleeds suddenly, while others linger on. Life is random and so is cancer. We cling to hope about new medical treatments coming out all the time. We live each day fully because no one is guaranteed more than the present.

Life is like cancer and a lot of it doesn’t make sense. We ask ourselves why and have no answers. All we can do is grasp on to what we have, love our friends and family unconditionally and carpe diem – seize the day!

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