Cancer is a despicable disease and I hate it. I’m not alone in this hatred, definitely not alone in being affected by it. In my lifetime, I’ve sat on the sidelines, helpless against it, watching it rob loved ones of all that makes them recognizable physically.
My grandfather passed away this past Sunday after a years long battle. He fought it off only for it pop back up in another place and this last time it was in his bones. In the very end the doctors couldn’t even manage his pain, giving him the most morphine they could without overdosing. His organs had shut down, his blood vessels collapsed and he was bleeding under his skin. Due to the morphine, he didn’t recognize anyone, often hallucinating and saying wild things he would have never said in his lifetime. It made me angry that he was in pain; when I got the phone call that he had finally passed, I was relieved. For the first time I actually believed it when people said “He’s in a better place.” I didn’t even cry at the funeral because I was actually happy that he was now free of his earthly body and had now entered that wonderful world where there is no pain, no sadness, no Cancer.
He’s not the first family member to die of cancer and he won’t be the last. We’re powerless against it and it will keep coming for us, for me. Both my paternal grandparents had cancer, and I remember watching my grandmother’s body wither away as she fought her years-long battle. My first cousin Lee was struck down in the prime of his life with colon cancer, diagnosed in the Spring, dead in November. Try keeping it together when a five year old stands in front of a church to talk about how much she’ll miss her father.
Both my parents have had “pre-cancerous” skin cells and I’ve already had my first scare with “pre-cancerous” cervical cells. I often make the joke (albeit not a funny one) that at least I know how I’m going to die. Pending a death in a car accident or some other similar tragic event, I am convinced that I will die of cancer. And although I’m prepared for it, it’s the drawn out battle that I dread the most.
The 101 Things to Do Before You Die list is, at its heart, about living, not dying. We are here but for such a short time and making each day count is the most that we can do.
Thus concludeth my thesis on death. Stay tuned for my next post which is sure to be vapid and completely mindless!