I hate cancer.
My mother died of it. My father died of it, and my sister has it.
And let’s not fail to mention all the members of my congregation who have died of it, and my mother in the ministry.
When I was in high school, before anyone close to me had gotten the disease, I remember asking a biology teacher why it is doctors couldn’t just freeze people who had cancer until a cure was found? I don’t know what prompted me to ask that question, but I was passionate in my “ask” and was disappointed when the teacher said she didn’t think such a solution was possible.
I know that other diseases are supposedly more deadly – like heart disease, and I know that I should be more concerned with heart disease as I have a strong family history of heart disease.
But cancer is so …rude. It invades our bodies without a clue, far too often. By the time we figure out we have it, it has advanced to a point where the treatment will be arduous, long and painful. It is rude, this disease, and sneaky.
I also remember thinking while I was in high school that cancer must be a virus. It was a pesky, sneaky virus, I decided, like the virus that causes one to have colds. I read up on viruses and learned that they were hard to identify and doubly hard to treat.
So, this rude virus invades our bodies, even those of us who try to eat right and exercise. It invades the delicate bodies of babies and little children. It invades and it grows into what it wants, sometimes in such defiance of the drugs pumped into its tumors.
I hate it.
My son, who not all that long ago started smoking, asked me why I always say, out loud, that I hate cancer.
It’s because I do. It is my Moby Dick. It is a hated presence in my life and in the lives of others which has stolen moments which were not it to have.
I am grateful that research is advancing treatment and cures for this impostor, this unwanted visitor. I like to visualize the little arrogant cancer cells being knocked out by drugs that will not be knocked out or pushed around. I like to see them, in my mind’s eye, shriveling up, like the wicked witch of the North (was she from the North?), screeching in protest, only to be no more.
We are Captain Ahab, cancer. We who hate you are Captain Ahab …and we will beat you yet.
You are a damned disease…and that is a candid observation.