My fear has always been sudden death. Heart attack, stroke, embolism – things that will hit ya out of nowhere with no warning or preparation. My mom always said I was nuts. That dying suddenly would be so much better than having a fatal illness that could go on with pain and discomfort. I guess death just sucks. Period.
The topic of death has been in the forefront of my mind again lately as my parents have been caring for a dying friend. My step father’s best friend, Tom, was recently diagnosed with an aggressive form cancer and a short stint of treatment proved to be futile. He is now in his last moments before the young age of 60.
Tom’s wife died young as well, also from cancer, just a couple of years ago. My mom said that Tom has never appeared frightened about dying and perhaps the thought of being with his wife again is the reason for his acceptance. Perhaps it is whatever faith he’s developed over the years. Or maybe it is just knowing there isn’t a damn thing he can do about it.
Cancer is much scarier to me as I get older. I have known so many people – at varying ages – who have lost their lives to the disease. And it almost seems like a perpetual anvil just hanging overhead, ready to slam onto me or someone I love. It really truly scares the piss out of me.
My mother recently lost an acquaintance who was in her 30’s to breast cancer. She left behind a young baby.
My dear friend’s mother died from lung cancer just after building a dream home up north on the heels of her retirement.
My step father’s cousin, in her 40’s, also passed from the disease.
My grandmother was in her 50’s when she died from it. My grandfather, whom I never met, was in his 40’s.
My husband’s grandmother also fell victim.
I have a friend who just had surgery this week to remove her cancer. My cousin’s sister-in-law, also in her 30’s, is braving the fight as we speak. And I have been following, on Facebook, the story of a high school senior who has been battling for years.
I honestly couldn’t name all of the people I have known. And what a depressing list it would make anyway. And I am not quite sure the purpose of this post or what I really want to convey. All I know is I am struck with such sadness when I hear these stories and know what these people and their families go through.
I feel so badly for my parents as they watch their friend of so many decades disappear before their eyes. There is so little one can say or do in hopes of comforting those in that kind of pain.
Is it better to go quickly in order to reduce suffering? Or is it better to have time to say goodbye and make end of life decisions? I am not sure.
There are, indeed, many people who win the fight against this killer. There are remarkable treatments and countless stories of recoveries. I suppose it is better to think of those cases…those survivors. I should really put my energy into positive thoughts for those still fighting.
But tonight I am sad. I am sad for my parents and all of the other people who are out there struggling due to their losses. I am sad thinking about the possibility of going through it with my parents or husband or even myself. I am sad that there are so many young people who are struck down. I am sad – no, angry – that some people end up with preventable forms of cancer because they do not have insurance to pay for required testing.
All death is sad. It all seems unfair. And every kind scares me. But tonight it is cancer that I hate. Fuck you, cancer. Fuck. You.