Cancer, the one thing we all love to hate. The unifying enemy that brings us all together, despite our differences. It covets us and looks for any small microscopic opening to mutate, to turn good cells into bad and to grow and cultivate itself into a big hairy monster, it does not discriminate, we are equal opportunity carriers.
I have cancer on my mind, and not because I have it, but because I am surrounded by it. In this very moment I have three lovely thirty something friends who all joined the same club, a club they never expected to join, one they had spent their lives doing all the things that would ensure they never were accepted. Seemingly healthy, young vibrant women, one on each coast and one in the middle. No one had a family history of cancer. All just like you and me, spouses and mothers to young children, sisters, and someone’s best friend. Each one of them woke up one day, and were hazed, accepted into a fight club they didn’t rush, signed up for the heavyweight championship fight of their lives, only they were welter weights, and they want out.
That sneaky little hazing bitch. I sit here and I try to think of what I can say or do to help, how to encourage each of them, to strategize some way to counter attack, because there has to be a secret weapon, a way to sabotage and eradicate – fight yes fight, love harder love, chemo and radiation and raw food and cottage cheese, no meat, yes meat, flax seed, bone broth, just fish now and acupuncture and reiki, massage, gluten free, weed yes weed, ok cannibas oil now, prayer beads and mediation, chaplains and brain lesions, tumors and insomnia, nothing where something used to be, skin hanging onto bone for dear life, its beat and its back stronger than ever, smoking and fighting and winning and losing – its chemo’s fault, fuck the radiation it ruined everything – it all worked and none of it worked. Is it working…
We can’t let go of what we can’t accept. Acceptance doesn’t mean surrender- if you hold something tight it can hold you back tighter, stick to you like glue- so maybe in all of this letting go is the answer, accepting things as they are – not being the cause and not being the solution, but flowing in and out. Cancer is the ultimate loss of control and yet it fools you into thinking that if you hold tighter are more sure of the remedy, control more, it will be beat. Our nature is to control, to drive and navigate and we are fooled into thinking we know where life is taking us, where we will end up. After all we run marathons and take vitamins and eat vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, gluten free alcohol free, we do yoga and sleep 8 hours a night and love our families and yet yet, still wake up one day and the story has taken a turn.
So maybe this isn’t about cancer, but life. None of us are immune to anything, including cancer. It is about loving ourselves and each other the best we can, fighting and making up, finding a middle way, rolling in the grass with our kids and our partners – making fools of ourselves, losing and winning, getting promoted and fired, dancing and laughing, laying in bed moving or unmoving, and crying and taking deep breaths and living in the moment -accepting that we can only be right here right now, and not just saying it, but really, breathing just this breath, because you can’t breathe tomorrow’s breath.
To all of you who have cancer or know someone with cancer or have lost someone to cancer, you are doing all you can – just love and breathe and let go, it will all be ok even if its not.