Ever notice how two words like that can send a tremor of fear right through you? So, a couple of weeks ago when I came home from a nice evening out getting a pedicure with Sarah, and Jamie greeted my arrival with, "Sit down," I was unprepared, to say the least.
And in my brain were things like the following: one of my grandparents died...then Jamie said, "Your mom called and your sister..." and my brain went to things like: my sister died, my sister was in a horrible car accident, wait...which sister are we talking about here...
...and he finished with, "...has Hodgkin's Lymphoma." Oh.
Wait, what? No one died?
Okay, that's the good news. But my sister has cancer...well, that just sucks. Seriously...that was my first thought. That sucks (how very educated and mature of me, but sometimes there just aren't better words). And no kidding, my very next set of thoughts went to something like, "So, cancer bites the big one and I really wish my sister didn't have cancer, but in this family we've got cancer covered. We're GOOD at cancer, so cancer...BRING. IT. ON. because you are soooo going to lose."
Now, I don't mean to minimize cancer or the diagnosis of cancer...at all. The "C" monster as my sister has started to refer to it is scary and life-altering and sometimes deadly. But, I wasn't kidding when I really did think of it as something that was manageable and treatable and with an attitude of, "Okay...now what?" I didn't freak out (other sister did, but that's okay, too) because, like my oh-so-wise sister has pointed out, our experience with cancer has been one of SURVIVAL. Let me list the ways...
Mom - Breast cancer survivor, 17+ years
Grandma - Breast cancer survivor, 15 years
Jamie - Colon cancer survivor, 6+ years
Cheryl - Leukemia survivor, 12+ years
Gina - Breast cancer survivor, 4+ years
Susan - Multiple myeloma survivor, 6+ years
So, while cancer is a scary word and treatment is a long, arduous journey, I don't live in a world where cancer has won very often. I live in a world where you do the next thing, take the next step and fight the battle in front of you because there is no alternative. Cancer is terrible for the patient, and not too fun for those of us that love the patient because the overwhelming feeling is one of helplessness. What can you do? What do you do? For some, they worry and stew. I just come from a family where we just say..."Suck it, cancer."
And then we move on.
So, to my baby sister...just keep doing the next thing. Know we love you mightily and ferociously... and remember that you always have a tribe in your corner.