Last week on twitter, when hearing the news of Roger Eberts death, I tweeted this:
If cancer has blown your world apart, every time you hear of another death, a piece of you is cut out and trampled on.
It must have struck a chord with many others, it was “retweeted” and “favorited” and passed around many times.
It was what I was feeling, I didn’t know Roger Ebert. I used to watch Siskel and Ebert on Saturday mornings to see what movies they were bashing and sometimes praising and often I’d argue with the TV screen. But hearing of his death, like hearing of the death of Nora Ephron, or that girl I went to high school with, or the grocery checker who was always so nice… it affected me, they all affected me.
Cancer has blown my world apart, so often that I’m not sure if it was all one big explosion or several smaller ones linked together, like a mega roll of firecrackers rolled out and lit… the bangs go on forever — I hate firecrackers.
The aftermath of cancer, the picking up of the pieces, the stringing reality back together, the return to a normal existence… those are the things that take longer than it did for the cancer to take over a body and destroy it — cancer lingers. When someone dies of cancer, it doesn’t end there, because cancer has invaded you, your life, your world is now a world that contains cancer. It has you in its grips forever, you are never free of it — death does not destroy cancer.
It is the constant background noise to your life, the ceaseless ringing in your ears. I am not brave before it, I cower, I lower my head, I try not to be seen by it. But, it makes sure I know it sees me, there is no corner dark enough to conceal me from it.
I forget, briefly, in those periods in between hearing how its taken over another persons body. I forget. But, never for long. The periods of forgetfulness become shorter each day. Each day I hear of a friend who has been diagnosed, a spouse of a co-worker, a favorite professor, a screenwriter who made me laugh. When cancer has blown your world apart, every time you hear of another death, a piece of you is cut out and trampled on.
Pieces of me are scattered around — pieces from my father, pieces from my mother, pieces from my brother-in-law, pieces from my dog, pieces from friends and co-workers and friends of friends and complete strangers… I have been trampled on by cancer.
I wish I could tie these thoughts up like a beautiful package under the tree on Christmas morning — when you open it, out pops bravery and triumph and fearlessness. But, that’s not the case. There are no ornate pink bows big enough to cover up cancer… it’s ugly and ruthless and cunning.
Often now, my fear and cowering is accompanied by an over-bearing hatred. Maybe that’s what we should hope for, that we become so pissed off at this monster that we are moved to action, not just reaction.
After all, if you believe they put a man on the moon, the ability to stop this creature shouldn’t be far off.
Please visit the following sites:
Lisa Bonchek Adams Giving Page
Lisa Bonchek Adams Blog
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center
Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt