I don’t know if you guys are getting sick of me writing about cancer or not, but these days I just can’t seem to stop thinking about it. Not only have I lost my mother and other family members to this terrible disease, and not only is one of my best friends losing her husband to it, but I just found out that an old schoolmate, four years younger than me, has it, too.
It seems I cannot escape the impact of cancer.
That’s why when I saw this TV advertisement last night, I lost it. I sat alone in my family room and sobbed into the sleeve of my plush red housecoat (which had been my Mom’s). I sobbed for the people I’ve lost, for the people I’m losing, for the people who will recover, and with gratitude for the people who go to work every day with one mission: to cure cancer in our lifetime.
I wept at that too-familiar place: that façade, that atrium, that curving glass staircase.
I wept that my Mom and my cousin weren’t among the inspiring blue-card-toting survivors.
And as the tears blurred my vision, I imagined I could see them…the hundreds and thousands of people who’ve lost their battles with cancer – their faces crammed into the nooks and crannies between the dedicated clinicians and the brave, lucky survivors. Their stories told on blue cards, too.
My Mom’s card would read:
“Participated in several clinical trials, thus advancing important melanoma research before succumbing to this deadly and poorly understood form of skin cancer.”
You see, even the people who lose their own personal battles with cancer can contribute to the fight against this horrible disease. My Mom was passionate about this herself. Even when she knew her disease was incurable, when she knew that any treatments she underwent were strictly palliative, she was still enthusiastic about taking part in clinical trials. And even when those trials failed, she took comfort in the fact that her participation – although it wouldn’t save her life – would help bring researchers one step closer to finding viable treatments (and even one day a cure) for melanoma.
You see, to me everyone touched by cancer has the chance to be a hero – whether they survive or not.