Something Is Wrong With Me

Something is wrong with me.

As much as I despise cancer, I can’t seem to find the right words – or the sincerity – to sympathize with someone who has cancer and has lived a fulfilling life.

For example…

If you were cancer with a conscience and I gave you a choice of which person you would pick to infect and slowly, inevitably kill, who would you pick?

a. a 4-year-old child,

b. a 36-year-old parent with young children,

c. a 68-year-old person who has seen their children grow up and the birth of several grandchildren.

If it was me, I’d pick person C. Only because they have lived a full life. Their children and grandchildren need them LESS than person B and their loss, although huge, does not have the same kind of devastation the loss of person A.

Any and all deaths are hard to take and cause life long grief. And all cancer is brutal and ugly. I freely admit that.

But where I falter is to find the compassion within me to offer comfort when people are openly devastated by a cancer diagnosis of an “older” person in 2017.

I can’t help but think back to 1995 when my 52-year-old mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer. There was absolutely no chance that she would live longer than 5 years. Despite her best attempts to cut out sugar and try all the naturopathic cures out there – because surgery, chemo, and radiation were not options to her; why?! – she died 8 months later.

I was 19 when she was diagnosed. 20 when she died.

She never met my husband. She did not meet my five children. She did not comfort me through my two miscarriages or help me when we had a house fire. So many times I have yearned to call her up and ask her advice on some parenting matter – or apologize for being a selfish, jerky kid – but that is not an option.

Maybe I’m still grieving over her loss (obviously). Maybe I am (admittedly wrongly) comparing my situation to someone else’s.

I know it’s wrong to not feel a lot of sympathy for you, Person C, and I freely admit I have issues.

So rather than offering words that mean nothing or even worse, say my truth and hurt you with my words, I withhold comment.

I don’t say anything.

But please know that I hurt too. That, in some ways, I do feel your pain.

Cancer is never fair. But death is inevitable. For all of us, cancer victims or not.

Something is wrong with you. You have cancer. Cancer sucks.

Something is wrong with me. And usually, I keep it to myself. Please excuse my silence.

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