A person handcuffed by cancer awareness ribbons

Did I Say I Hate Cancer?

I'm tired of losing my loved ones to cancer. I rarely use the word "hate," but I'm not averse to standing on a mountaintop and shouting my hate for cancer at the top of my lungs. Too many people in my life have suffered due to cancer, and I fear there will be more to come. Did I say I hate cancer?

I'll never get used to loss

With each phone call or text notifying me of yet another loss, I tell myself I should be used to it by now. I am over 70 years old, after all, and I know I'm in the phase of life when my contemporaries start passing on.

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But cancer? No! I'll never get used to it because it's so disproportionate to other fatal illnesses. Currently, heart disease, cancer, and accidents are the leading causes of death in the US.1

Experiencing cumulative grief

At each new funeral or memorial service, my mind tells me I'm supposed to grieve a little less and buck up a little faster, but my heart doesn't agree. New losses trigger past ones. I'm beginning to relate to poor Sisyphus, whose eternity is spent rolling a massive boulder up a hill only for it to roll back down, where he starts all over again. Sisyphus got a bum rap, as did any of us who have to deal with cumulative grief.

Dealing with loss because of cancer

I hate cancer, and I'll never get used to it, but I do grow a little more philosophical with each passing. It doesn't stop the pain, but it helps me deal with it. The way things are going, I feel I'll be that last living baby boomer on the planet. That's how it feels, anyway.

Most of my long-term friends are gone now, and some are much younger than I am. No one should die of cancer, anyway, but certainly, no one under the age of 40 should have to leave that way.

The fear is that if I feel each death a little less, I'll harden up, and callouses will form on my heart without my even knowing it. I think that's why I keep my hate for this disease fresh and in good form.

Standing up for those with cancer

I'm anything but a hateful person, and I admit I wouldn't say I like using the "H" word. But as long as the people I love keep getting cancer, I'll stand vigil. I'll wear ribbons of many colors and do whatever I can to support anyone who needs me.

And maybe that's why I'm blessed with good health and energy. Someone has to live long enough to support people with cancer. And for as long as I live, I will hate cancer.

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