I’m struggling a bit with this series of posts….I want to be positive and hopeful that everyone will fight and survive and beat their cancer odds. I want us all to be survivors and to live long and healthy and productive lives. I want us all to be poster children for cancer survival.
But I’ve been in the cancer community for almost 8 years now, and I have come to know and understand that everyone will not survive. Some who deserve to live for many reasons that are right and just and honorable won’t survive. It is so unfair. So wrong.
We all felt Randy Pausch should have been the example of rightness and golden hope and survived against all odds..he was strong, tough, intelligent and determined and had so much potential to inspire. He could have been our ultimate survival poster-child, he should have defied his terrible odds. He could have been the evidence that determination equals survival. But he succumbed to his cancer. It was so wrong and so unjust that he left a great career, good marriage and young kids who needed him behind. We wanted him to survive, to continue to inspire us. But cancer claimed him, as he said it would.
I’ve got a special place in my heart for mothers of small children who have cancer, as I once was one. And I’ve communicated with, and lost, several. A nurse like myself had a four year old son who had no father or paternal granparents and whose maternal grandmother had died of cancer. She wanted so bady to stay alive to raise her son, but didn’t. I developed a relationship with a mother of children ages 1, 4 and 6 who desperately wanted to stay alive to raise her children…and she succumbed. She was in her 30s. Another mother of two and four year old sons who desperately wanted to live and who I advocated for as she sought the most advanced treatment for her disease also lost her battle recently. I learned today a woman and friend I advocated for and had lunch with in Washington DC just a few months ago lost her battle 2 days ago. She had two children.
I am a nurse and have recently worked with two former oncology nuses who have left that field…oncology nurse turnover is huge. One nurse told me she attended a Christian church for 30 years…but working in oncology made her doubt her faith. She no longer attends a church and is uncertain of her faith based on all of the pain and unfairness she’s seen.
I have still a strong faith, though I don’t have answers. I’m waiting for the answers, though I know I may not get them in this lifetime.
I only know what is…that some survive cancer, but many don’t. And we need to be here to support those who lose their battles.
A close friend, a woman I love a lot, received a terminal diagnosis this week. I want a miracle for her. I don’t want to lose my friend. I want her to survive all odds. I am angry, again, at cancer. But I loved that her sister said she will be here for her children when she is gone. If I were dying I’d want someone I loved to be there for my kids.
Maybe the one thing we can do to make it better for those who don’t survive is to help fill the voids they leave, to let them know we will be there when they can’t.
Maybe cancer advocacy is that, too.