Cancer, the dreaded “c” word. I just don’t get it. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to who gets it or when. Old, young, infant, teenager, young adult, senior citizen, it just seems to strike randomly and more often than not in the most unfair ways. My mom died of lung cancer. She was a smoker most of her adult life. In a way she was lucky. Although she continued to smoke the big “C” waited until her early eighties to take its due. One could argue that she had a full life and that we all have to go sometime and that’s true. But cancer seems to take a great deal of joy in testing the fortitude of those stricken by it and those who have to care for them.
I remember so vividly the “drug dance” that needed to be done just to control the pain. Every day the meds are adjusted, every day a little more pain comes into play, every day your quality of life is slowly and painstakingly stripped from you until you lie there, comatose, waiting for death to be merciful. With cancer the cure is worse than the disease. Chemotherapy, radiation, morphine and oxycodone become your everyday life. Zap that cancer, kill its onslaught and in the process destroy good cells, your immune system, your hair, your will to live. I can’t understand why we can invent Viagra but not find a cure for cancer. Maybe cancer is such big business in the medical profession that to cure it would bring modern medicine as we know it to its knees. I just don’t know. All I do know is that I am sick of it. Day after day, year after year, I have watched friends and family deal with, overcome or succumb to the dreaded “C”. It’s time to stop. I wish I had the power to make it go away.
So as my former dance teacher Carol, a gifted woman of beauty and grace begins her final journey toward a place that does not recognize cancer, I can’t decide how I feel. I hate going through this charade again. She has no hair, her left lung virtually useless, she’s bloated, weak and now requiring ’round the clock care. I remember when she was young, vibrant, a gifted and talented dancer who taught me most of what I know about the art of dance. A pure soul that graced everyone she met, beautiful both inside and out and now setting an example of bravery for all of us to emulate. I am angry that she has to go through this. It is not fair.
All I can hope for is that her final days are without pain. The beauty of what she is experiencing is that she knows how people feel about her. They’ve had the time to express their love, to tell her how her life mattered, to let her know that she will live on in their hearts. That is probably the only blessing of being given a terminal diagnosis. We all know we are going to die but we kid ourselves into believing it won’t happen. And if it happens suddenly, we don’t get the time to say those final goodbyes and those final I love you’s. Carol has been given that gift and I know she draws strength from it.
And so, my dear dancing mentor Carol, all I can do is honor you in this blog. Thank you for all the gifts you shared, thank you for pushing me to the limits of my abilities, thank you for your bravery, and thank God for sharing you with all of us. May your final days on earth be painless and peaceful. You are one very special lady who will always live on in my heart!