so sick of the c word

we counted off the number of people we personally knew with cancer:  7.  i couldn’t bring myself to tell my 15.5 year old that 7 was a low number.  in reality, i personally know many more people who have or had cancer.  the thing is, at 15, i don’t remember ever hearing the word cancer.  back in the dinosaur days of the early 1970’s – i guess people got cancer but none that i knew.  none that i knew of in my family.   i knew about juvenile diabetes and heart attacks – but never heard about cancer. 

my daughter lost a teacher at school last year who did not survive cancer – and it was quite a lesson to watch my daughter navigate the formality of grieving personally and with her school community for someone who held a special place in her life.  and now another teacher diagnosed…this teacher is my daughter’s touchstone.  never her formal teacher but always her confidant and a warm slightly-irreverent refuge.  we came back from summer break to find out that her teacher was in the fight of her life.  and now i watch the waves of sheer terror mixed with utter heartache mixed with the unspoken acknowledgement that cancer kills pass through her on a nightly basis – or at least showing up when she’s most vulnerable at 10pm after a long day of school and soccer and social negotiations – none of which she can share with her charming mentor. 

i am so grateful that we can have conversations at her age of 15 and mine of 52….’cancer sucks’.  ‘fuck cancer’.  you said it.  i want to say: ‘ mine is not theirs.  i will not leave you.  i will never leave you.’  but even without cancer, that’s something no parent can actually say.  sometimes i get knotted up emotionally and need a little space…until i look at her face and realize that she needs to hold on.  so i do.  to her.  arms wrapped around.  fuck cancer. 


4 Responses to so sick of the c word

  1. Lisa says:

    This is heartbreaking. And cancer does seem to be everywhere.

  2. kate says:

    thank you,you let me see my own feelings about my mother, my sister and myself thru describing your daughter, and you help me in understanding the young people in my life….fuck cancer and its causes.

  3. Jeanne says:

    My friends (too many of whom have fought through breast cancer too young) joke about wanting to meet cancer in a dark alley to kick it’s a@^%#!

    I am so sorry for what your daughter is going through. My mom was sick with cancer when I was 15 – but it was definitely a case for me in which no-one outside of family and close friends talked about it. It wasn’t a secret so much as it was private.

  4. Reading this brought tears to my eyes. Yeah. Fuck cancer. But how awesome that you have a teenager who’ll say “fuck cancer” and not “fuck you” (from one who leaned more toward the latter as a teen).

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