Cancer is a monster that wrecks lives. It infiltrates the body and tears families to pieces. On the flip side, cancer also creates a sort of camaraderie between those who have been affected.
However, like with anything, it effects different people in different ways.
When I say the word ‘cancer,’ it is likely that it reminds you of your own experience. Maybe you see you uncle whose pancreas turned against him. Right now, I see my own grandma, who is being eaten alive by this horrible disease. However, I could just as easily see myself. You see, I am a cancer survivor.
That statement has inexplicably tied me to a great variety of people. I’ve walked the Relay for Life wearing my bright purple shirt as a sign of victory. But once I say that I have had cancer, people ask about my chemotherapy, my radiation treatments, how sick I got, and so many other questions that can’t be answered.
My cancer was dealt with by two surgeries: one minor, the other (though major) was mostly preventative. In other words, my cancer wasn’t that big of a deal.
Yes, I was 16 years old. Yes, the “C” word was terrifying, and the idea of death became very real to me, but in the three months following my diagnosis, I was back to living life as I always had, albeit with only one testicle (which, if I hadn’t said so, you’d have never known).
I never once laid in a recliner, my body racked with the horrors of chemotherapy. My hair stayed firmly in place. I never wasted away into a wisp of my former self. My long and drawn out battle with cancer never happened, and I am most grateful for this.
[ctt title=”Just because we relate does not mean that we are the same.” tweet=”Just because we relate does not mean that we are the same. http://ctt.ec/b0Cxg+” coverup=”b0Cxg”]
My story is not your story. My story is not your uncle’s. Your uncle’s story is not my grandma’s. We’ve all got a different experience, and they all produced a different outcome. While there is a fellowship of cancer survivors, you can’t rightly slap a purple shirt on us with such a wide brush. Each of us are individuals, and frankly, I feel guilty standing next to the true cancer warriors. Say what you will, but that’s not me.
There is a great danger in the broad brush, so much so that I’ll discuss it further in a series of future posts.