Curing the Cancer
by Sarah Faulder
How did you react when you were told? When you received the diagnosis, did you believe it? People say that you know these things can happen, but they always happen to other people. It could never happen to you. You were young and invincible; there was no way it could happen to you.
Did you feel weak? Were your legs made of rubber, your eyelids made of metal? Was it hard to stay awake? Did your stomach churn? Maybe you dismissed it all. Maybe you thought it was a joke. After all, it couldn’t be true. It can’t be real.
People say that it’s hard to understand. It’s life changing, and it takes a while to become accustomed to the idea. People say that you’ll need time. People say that, with time, you’ll come to terms with what’s happened. It’ll make sense. You’ll learn to live with the idea.
People say a lot of things.
People don’t understand. It doesn’t take time to understand. It’s just a disease. Your cells are just multiplying too quickly. The DNA is just a little messed up. The cells just aren’t repairing properly. It’s a simple matter. It doesn’t take time. You understand. People don’t understand.
People say you need treatment. People say you have a chance for recovery. People say you’ll be okay. You say you’re already are okay. They say you don’t understand. They’re the ones who don’t understand.
It’s a part of you now: this disease, this problem. You don’t need to learn to live with it. You already are living with it.
What will you do now? Will you beg them to change their minds? Will you forget to breathe? Will you cry? Maybe if you just talk to the doctor just one more time, they’ll tell you that they were kidding. Maybe they diagnosed you wrong, and you’re really perfectly healthy. That happens, doesn’t it?
You have to come to terms with it, eventually. You lash out at those around you, telling them that you understand now. You know it’s true. You yell at your closest friends; you scream at your closest family. Even if it’s true, you won’t go down without a fight. You punch walls, grind your teeth, clench your fists constantly. You know that what you’re doing is wrong. You shouldn’t blame anyone for this. It’s not anyone’s fault.
That doesn’t stop you.
You can’t focus anymore. You can’t work or go to school. Everyone who looks up to you is being let down as they see you crack. You’re not just cracking, though; you’re breaking. You can’t do this anymore. What else can you do, anyway? You can’t cure yourself. You can’t calm down, either. You can’t do anything, can you?
You can learn.
Did you know that half of the men and a third of the women in the United States will develop some form of this sickness, this disorder, this disease at some point in their lives? You learned that from the internet. You can learn anything about the disease from the internet. You’ll learn everything, and then you’ll show them. You’ll know more than them all, and then you can teach them about it. Did you know that one in twenty cases of the disease were caused by genes? That’s what it was for you. You didn’t do anything wrong. It was all genes. That doesn’t help you, though. What are you going to do?
You could do nothing. As the people say, you could learn to live with it. Really, though, who wants to accept what he’s given in life? Surely not you.
You could go through treatment. You could do as they say, and resign yourself to the normal options. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation. It might work. It might prolong your life, at the very least. You could live a long life. You could live a disease-infested, unclean, horribly long life. Is that what you want? Do you want to live with the disease, become one with the disease, accept the disease?
You don’t have to. You could escape. You don’t need to live a long life. Why would you want to live a life that’s infected? Friends, family, everything around you: none of it’s worth it, is it? Is there anything you really couldn’t leave behind? You could dismiss it all, run away from it all. You wouldn’t have to accept your fate.
There’s nothing left for you. Your heart is heavy, and you’re having trouble sleeping at night. Every time you take a breath, you feel the disease destroying you. You’re one breath closer to your end. Every day you live feels like another year. Everything you do will only lead you to the same fate. This disease is eating you up, consuming you. It is your life now. It’s spreading through you, destroying you, and it will eventually end you. It’s not just a disease; it’s a poison. It’s not just a disease; it’s an infestation, a betrayal of your body against you. What can you do? How can you even survive?
Why not end it all now, and save yourself the suffering?
Unless you’d rather live with the disease.
You have so much to live for, don’t you? Everything you have, it’s all so valuable when you really think about it. You need to live. You can use your terrifying, disease ridden life to help others, to touch others, to contribute to the lives of others. You can change others. You can live for the people in your life, and help them live.
It’s worth it.
You can live with the disease. You can live with your fate. You can live a long life, a life of happiness, of understanding, of love. You can go through the treatment options. It will be hard, but you can stay alive. You’ll feel terrible at times, and you might want to give up. Then you’ll remember what it is that you live for: The wind in your hair and the kiss of the sun on your skin; her hand in yours and his soft touch; the colors you see when you close your eyes, the way the fireworks in the back of your eyelids explode. His voice. Her smile. Their love.
You can do it.
You’ll be okay.
You’ll be okay.
You’ll be okay.
You’re cancerous now, but as long as you have something to live for, you’ll be okay. You’re cancerous now, but you’ll always be able to find something to live for, truly. You’re cancerous now, but you can always find love and beauty, and you’ll always have a reason to smile.
And as long as you have that, you can live with the disease.
National Cancer Institute. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.gov/
Carson, C. (2014). Personal Interview.
Axelrod, J. (2006). The 5 Stages of Loss and Grief. Psych Central. Retrieved from http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-5-stages-of-loss-and-grief/000617
The Experience of Grief. Stanford University. Retrieved from http://cancer.stanford.edu/information/coping/grief.html
Green, J. (2012). The Fault in Our Stars. United States: Dutton Books.
About the Author
Sarah Faulder, although herself healthy at age seventeen, has worked closely with others who have received devastating news. After moving from Anchorage, Alaska to Littleton, Colorado at eight years old, and even exploring France for a week, Sarah is happy to have friends–both ill and healthy–across the country. She currently attends Arapahoe Community College.