I Hate Cancer

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garyBy Gary John, ESPN 930AM and 104.1 FM

Those are words that I’m sure we’ve all said at one point or another as I’m sure we’d be hard pressed to find anyone who hasn’t personally been effected by this awful disease. I was reminded by how much I hate cancer by Eagle 97.7’s recent Bras Across the Mispillion campaign where we were simply trying to raise awareness for Breast Cancer Awareness month and I met dozens of women who are currently battling breast cancer and their families who just wanted to do something to feel like they were making a difference in the battle. The courage and strength that it takes to deal with cancer (or any other major disease for that matter) is amazing and the physical, mental and emotional toll that it takes on not only the patient, but the family is enormous.

Meeting some of these women and their families reminded me of my own family and how much I hate cancer, in the spring of 1995 I was a senior in high school and had just returned from our Senior Trip to Florida when I noticed that my mother was dealing with what we thought was a case of bronchitis. My mother was a very tough woman and took some time before going to see the doctor and I will never forget the afternoon that I got home from baseball practice to a note on the kitchen table from my father that he had taken Mom to the hospital. Of course I went right there and my Mom had been admitted with what was initially thought to be a case on pneumonia. Two days later when I went to visit my mother’s door was closed and when I opened it I was quickly shooed out of the room by my Uncle Jack. I was offended at first, because she was my mother and although they were talking to the doctor I felt like I should be able to hear what they were talking about. I would find out quickly enough and the determination was Lung Cancer, in the coming days we would learn that cancer was taking over my mother’s whole body, brain, lungs and lymphnodes. The prognosis was not good, but my Mother was a fighter and decided to battle the C-word.

The following weeks would be quite a struggle for my family as we were approaching what was supposed to be the best time of my young life, my high school baseball team had made the State playoffs for the first time in years, my brother was coming home from the naval base in Sicily for my graduation and of course I was graduating high school. However all the enthusiasm about those events was tempered by doctor visits, tests and treatments for Cancer for my mother. It is sickening what cancer does to a person and when you have to watch it and can’t do anything about it, you feel helpless and lost. These were not emotions that I was accustomed to at that point in my life and I was watching my favorite person in the world being slowly stolen from us day by day. My mother changed physically as her hair fell out, she became rather bloated from the litany of medications and an oxygen tube became a staple on her face. This was not MY mother, but it wasn’t until the cancer stole her soul before it took her body that I realized how much I hated cancer. The last few weeks of my mother’s life were not life at all, the cancer had taken all the best parts of her well before the end, her quick wit, kind words and great hugs were long gone.

As difficult as it was for my Mother who was one on one with the cancer, I saw how much the C-word effected the rest of us, my father especially. I was amazed at how draining each day became and I could see that a little bit of him was being stolen away as well. You see cancer doesn’t just beat the patient it beats down all those who care for that person. In some instances just because you are thrust into a role that you never intended for yourself as a nurse, chaplin, pharmacist, you name it. But you do it because you’d do and give anything to beat the disease and you do whatever it takes to save the one you love.

I’m not writing this because I want you to feel sorry for us, we lost my Mom on August 3rd, 1995 and of course there aren’t many days that go by that I don’t think about her and what Cancer did to her and us. I’m writing this to remind all of us that when the C-word comes into your world be sure to remember and comfort all those who love the patient the most. It’s natural to focus on the patient first, but an extra long hug or just 5 minutes of talking about something else will go a long way to make the turmoil of the battle a little easier on them.

I remember that my best friend at the time was so good at that for me, we would go to the movies or she would just call or sit with me and talk about anything else in the world and it eased my hurt greatly. I am forever grateful of that friendship and caring that was showed to me in a very difficult time. So yes, I hate cancer, I’m sure you do to, so when you know someone who is fighting the fight lend them a hand and give a hug. They’ll thank you later.

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