In the last four weeks we have heard about two other individuals, younger than my husband, being diagnosed with either Stage 3 or Stage 4 cancer. The effect on him is profound. It’s like a body blow. He withdraws from all interaction until he has puzzled through as he puts it “what the hell is happening.” Then we usually go through the conversation again, about why he is even bothering, he’s had a good run, and now it’s the curtain call.
Yesterday we heard about one of our son’s friends who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. This is a young man – with a cancer that has been diagnosed as “aggressive”. It’s frightening how arbitrary this disease is. The cancer fighting machine has already started to turn; we heard that his treatments will start very soon. This is a young man we had met at the hospital a few weeks back when the disease had not yet been diagnosed. When we had left that day my husband had observed how many people we know that we have met at the Cancer Clinic since we started his treatments in July. It was true, without fail, each and every visit we met someone we either were acquainted with or that my husband, a teacher, had met through his work.
So today I feel for a family that has received some dire news – the type that every family dreads. I wonder what supports they have in place, what steps they are taking on an individual and as a family to battle the disease. At this time I suspect they are being inundated with the “miracle cures” and the stories that everyone shares about someone they knew. And I also suspect at this time they just wish the world would go away and leave them alone for a while, that somehow they could turn back time. My learning from our journey, however, is that the world and the family and friends around them will be crucial in their journey forward. Take the support as well as consider the suggestions they are given. If I had to start our journey again I would gather my resources around me tightly and reach out more readily for those things we need. Putting faith and leaving it to the “experts” is not just enough. You have to have faith in yourself, in your family and friends, and believe that you can influence how the cancer treatment works.