A woman in my support group died. Last time I saw her, we were in the same boat. Done with treatment, told we had no evidence of disease, trying to get on with our lives. Waiting for our hair to grow. I eventually stopped going to group. I heard from a friend she had a recurrence locally in her breast and gone through the torture of treatment again. And then I heard it had metastasized. And then I heard she died.
And it hurt to hear it. Like a punch in the stomach. I didn’t know her well. We were acquaintances. Two members of a club no one cares to be in.But I am sad for her and her family. Really, I am sad for all of us.
From what I knew of her, she was nice and funny and gentle and kind. She had a lot of hope. She, like the rest of us, stared down a life threatening disease and went a couple of Saturdays a month to talk about it.
People say we are brave. We who have faced cancer. But is it bravery? I don’t think so. It’s just a need for self-preservation. We endure treatment for whatever reason, our families, our children, or maybe just to see another sun rise and set. And we sit in a chair and get pumped full of poisonous medicine in the hopes of having a few more days. And it wasn’t a battle. It wasn’t a fair fight. I got my ass kicked people, and kicked hard. And Yes, I believe the definition of bravey is doing things even though you are scared but this was kind of a forced bravery. Because none of us who face cancer and want to live really have much of a choice. And even then, there are people who go through treatment more than once and they die anyway. This is not about bravery, it’s about something else.
What would you give for another day?
Whoa, that’s deep.
Now I am trying to separate the compassion I have for this woman who died, with my own ego which can be a monster. Am I sad for the loss of her? Yes. Of course. But am I also sad because, well, this is the first person I have known in real life since my own breast cancer diagnosis who has done the unthinkable and died? Yes. I think that is part of it. It scares me. We were in the same boat at the same time and she died. That is what happened. While our lives are only barely intertwined, a part of me is taking her death very personally. Honestly, there is also this anger at how stupid all of this is. Why her? Why not me? We got the same treatment so why am I here? And more importantly, how do I stay here? Dear God, how do I stay here?
And I have no answers. No more than I had last week, last month, last year. All I know is that I have today and I try not to waste it. Better than that, I try to make use of it.
I try to be kind. I try to make a little something of my own every day. I try to avoid the pitfalls of my human nature. I try to be a better person than I was before even if that is a person who is sitting on the couch because she has another bit of upper respiratory ick. I try not to harm others. Even when I really, really want to. Even when they have harmed me. I try to laugh and sing and be happy. I try not to be scared.
I am sad for the loss of this woman I knew, who with a group of others, helped me through a devastating moment in time. I hate this stupid disease that takes and takes.