contains sensitive content about cancer and its struggle
I remember when my aunt actually said that she went through cancer. Ok, she was diagnosed with cancer, but it was stage ZERO. Are you kidding me? I sat there listening to her ordeal as she cried when she was told that she had cancer stage ZERO. The family support for her was enormous. Meanwhile, I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, but she was the one with the attention. Fine! I really don’t need attention.
My aunt posted a picture of extra hair on her brush due to pills
that the doctor gave her; I lost all my hair due to the latest & strongest chemo. I had to get a port placed in my left arm, then later on my chest to have the chemo infused into my veins, then directly to my heart to be distributed to my entire body. She complained about 2 pills daily that she was prescribed–she joked about missing several doses.
My aunt was complaining that when she touched something cold it was colder to her, I just simply lost the first layer of skin on my hands and feet. My stomach was discolored due to the chemo, and the skin on my face was slowly darkening. So please, spare me the details of your suffering.
One day I awoke unable to walk. The chemo paralyzed me from the neck down. My aunt went on vacation, of course being careful not to touch anything cold–poor her.
I forgot how to speak, I couldn’t write, I couldn’t recognize my
family. I didn’t remember having given birth to my daughters. On the other hand, my aunt was constantly on the phone with family members talking about her grievances. Am I wrong for being annoyed at stage ZERO cancer?
A family member stopped me at Target and asked “Why is your father saying that you have stage 3 cancer and to support you? You look strong and healthy. He should stop lying because karma will get him.” I couldn’t remember her. I couldn’t form a sentence to defend myself. My daughter later told me who
the lady was. As my family member spoke a little crowd formed around us. As she walked away angry; I pulled off my wig and scratched my bald head. Everyone around me gasped.
Another family member confronted me at the funeral of an uncle who died of cancer. She said that I brought cancer into the family because I was first diagnosed before anyone else. I stood in shock as everyone’s eyes were on me. I smiled and sat on one of the chairs closest to the door. I vowed never to
attend a funeral again.
My aunt lived her life: she was in her sixties, she had
grandchildren, even great grandchildren. I was 33 years old with a three-year-old and an eleven-year-old. She was happily married, but my husband left me once I was diagnosed. He said that he didn’t sign up to live with someone battling cancer.
Bitter isn’t the word for this feeling. It’s more of a “how dare
you” type feeling. How dare you compare yourself to my anguish? Stage three I was told comes back fiercer and fiercer until it takes your life. Stage ZERO just puts your life in a cute perspective. “Oh let me spend more time with all
my children, let me take that expensive vacation that I’ve been putting off. Let me finally take up my husband on that offer of downsizing our home and living in Florida.
Stage three makes you take drastic decisions. Who will I be
leaving my house to? How do I write a will? Should I start videos to give support to my daughters after I die? Or is that too much? Should I be placed in a hospice like the doctor suggested, or do I want my last days to be in my own home? But then again, I could scar my children. It makes you delete toxic people; it makes you appreciate laughter more often. It makes you realize the little things in life are just that “little” and not the end of the world.
For months I couldn’t bring myself to speak to my aunt, then it
turned into years. I just saw her after 14 years at another funeral. I didn’t want to attend, but two of my cousins were poisoned and both died. My aunt’s cancer–gone and forgotten. My cancer–active and attacking. During the funeral she retold her experience with stage ZERO cancer, while I sat there with
swollen hands due to chemo. My hair gently falling over my white coat as family member after family member excused themselves to go over to my aunt and give her a pep talk. Everyone pitied her, hugs were exchanged and tears shed as she
recounted in detail the day her doctor said cancer. I exhaled and said “stage ZERO?” She looked at me and said “Every stage is scary.” No, actually it’s not. But then again at my stage I don’t look for pity–I look for God.
Throughout my journey I realized that God doesn’t give His worst battles to his strongest warriors. He actually creates strong warriors through the toughest battles. I am tough, now battling stage four terminal cancer while raising my daughters. The cancer now spread to my left lung. I attended college
and received a degree in Creative Writing. I’ve written several books and short stories. My passions have been placed front and center in my life. Through my battles I realized that trials mold and shape us into stronger, more resilient humans. In my struggle I have given strength to others battling cancer without
my knowledge. My story has been told in newspapers and shared in the news on TV. My aunt's story has stayed within the family while mine has spread worldwide.
I don’t look for pity, I look to strengthen those who come behind me. To be a beacon of light to those entering cancer without a path. In my journey I have met angels within my doctors and nurses that have given their all to lighten my load.
I remember when my aunt spoke about her stage zero cancer and I smile.