Thursday, June 26, 2014

Cancer Sucks

I am fairly certain that everyone knows someone who has/had cancer. 

In 1982 was my first experience with cancer, my next door neighbor/friend's older sister, whom I only met once or twice because she was more often in the hospital in the year I knew her. Before she died. I had no idea what cancer, no idea the weight of that diagnosis. All I knew was it was a disease that made a very young girl very sick and die. 

As I grew older I knew people who knew people who had cancer, but mostly it wasn't terminal. Cancer was fairly benign in my experience.

The next time I personally encountered cancer was in 1998. It was closer to home this time, it was my grandma, who was in her 80s, and so her death 3 months after diagnosis, while sudden, was not focused on the cause. At that age it was not a surprise she would fall ill, that it was cancer didn't seem to cause any extra grief.

Over the next several years it went back to very little exposure to anyone battling cancer. The 2000's brought just a bit more. I met a childhood cancer survivor in our Church in 2002. Sean's estranged father, whom I never met and Sean hadn't seen in 20 years, died in 2005. A family friend was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 and survived.  A woman at Church had an inspirational battle with cancer and died in 2010
My uncle (by marriage) who lived in BC my whole life and I didn't know that well, was stricken suddenly and painfully with cancer in 2012 and he passed away a few months later.

Over the last year or so I have known someone who has had a large influx of people in her life who have passed away from cancer, people she has felt such grief at their lives being ripped away from the world far too early. I thanked God I haven't been afflicted with such distressing loss to cancer, and wondered when the odds would catch up with me.

They just did. 

Right now we know very little. We don't know what stage it's in. We don't know if it's affected more parts of her body than the tumor that was biopsied. We don't know the treatment plan. We don't know how it will affect her imminent plans for the future.

And she has a BRIGHT future.

This young woman captured our hearts just under two years when she was barely 17. We knew immediately she was special. We very soon thought of her as our surrogate daughter. She is a star in so many ways, it's the meaning of her name and God knew what He was doing because she doesn't just shine, she radiates. People can't help but notice she's different, she has that IT factor, yet she is so humble and has a heart for God's heart, a heart for the outcast and the broken. She is mature beyond her years and I sometimes forget, she's still only 18.

And here she is, so young and faced with this weighty diagnosis. If anyone can survive cancer inspirationally it is she. But she shouldn't have to. 

And the worst part is it has hit her right in the heart of her dreams. She has been accepted at a theater school starting in September, she is a dancer, an actress, a singer, her talent and dream is to be a performer. The cancer is in her foot. She has no idea the condition her foot will be in after treatment. She doesn't know if she'll even make it to her first semester of school in 9 weeks.

While cancer has been in the realm of possible for the last 6 months, it still seems so unreal. We weren't going to live like it was real without a real diagnosis. But now it's real. And we don't know how to live with it.

I do know I was given this summer to spend a lot of quality time with her. God has been showing me that this summer I was to pour into women he had laid on my heart and I already knew, due to various circumstances, that she was one of those women. Now I know that even more so.  I don't think it is because we will lose her, I still have a strong feeling about her amazing future, but I sense God wants to do something through this season in both of us. I just wish the day after her diagnosis I wasn't leaving for vacation for 9 days.

So yeah, fyi, today sucked.

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