Matters Of The Heart
By Donna Cobb
I’ve begun to think of Cancer as part of our family, the blackest of the black sheep…the proverbial outcast, who no one welcomes with open arms. They’re unwanted, they’re shunned, and for good reason. Inevitably, they show up unannounced, and worm their way in to the family hearth. Sometimes they stay a while, and it’s somewhat bearable, almost benign in a way. Then there is the sense of relief when they finally leave, and everyone has survived. You wash the sheets, restock the food and liquor and it’s like they were never there. Then there are those times when they overstay their welcome.
Cancer has come in and out of my family over the past three generations. There are those who escaped the visit and lived to tell the tale and show off their battle scars. Then there are the fallen. When I was a child Cancer was a character in stories that were told, it never seemed real. “Grandma had breast Cancer and had to have her breast removed”
was something that I heard and that stuck with me. This Cancer, whatever it is, is some scary stuff, worse than the boogeyman. Tales were told, as if Cancer was a kind of urban legend, like Bloody Mary. Whatever you do, don’t say it three times in the dark, or it will show up.
Over 7 years ago, Cancer snuck up on us and changed our lives forever. My mother, the matriarch of the family, a loving, strong, stubborn woman, found a lump. She fought the good fight, but Cancer had metastasized itself in her lungs, and won the battle effortlessly. My mother was unceremoniously cut from our family like a malignancy. The hole is still there, and our family has never recovered. Cancer has definitely left its mark.
Now it has returned. Life was good for my cousin and her husband, they were happy, until one day her doctor found it, a malignant hitchhiker. My cousin is now wrestling with Cancer, which has moved in to her lungs, her liver, her life. At first there was sadness and fear and then the futile attempt at poisoning the interloper. There was some optimism and hope for a while, but Cancer is a sneaky mutha.
My cousin is still with us, albeit in a ghostlike version of the wisecracking, full-of-life woman we all knew. She may still be in there somewhere…it’s impossible to know. Cancer is holding her hostage…the only ransom being a peaceful end to the siege. Of course, part of me is still in denial, and wishes for a miraculous recovery, so I can tell her how much I love her and we can spend more time together. I can only hope that she remains comfortable and pain-free during this transition from corporeal to ethereal, and pray that Cancer never comes to visit our family or friends again.
Note: Sadly, months later, my cousin lost her fight with cancer and left a hole in our hearts. Hate is a harsh word; however it’s not nearly strong enough to describe my feelings toward Cancer. I just hope it never comes calling again.