Dear Cancer, I Choose to Heal

by Steph KennellyJune 4, 2021View more posts from Steph Kennelly

Dear Cancer,

I know you shouldn’t be here.

I know a healthy 37-year-old breast should not have a lump. I know you are uncontrollably dividing and spreading, causing chaos to the surrounding healthy tissue.

I understand the fear. I won’t google the statistics. Some people are too afraid to even say your name.

Hey, I saw your nickname is Emperor of all Maladies? That’s intense.

I know that you are going to create a whole lot of trouble. Anxiety, limited mobility, night sweats, allergic reactions, infections, dry mouth, hair loss… to name a few.

So, I get it. People want to fight you. I’ve seen the “Kick Cancer’s A$$” t-shirts, mugs, and novelty socks.

But, I am hesitant to put on my boxing gloves. For me, I am not sure I want my journey to be a violent confrontation.

You see Cancer, I’m a mom. And I know that the louder and angrier I get with my boys, the more they push back. Raising my voice and stomping my feet, rarely gets me what I want. Especially in the long-term.

I’m also a teacher.

So Cancer, I would like to tell you my version of how this ends. Let me tell you the story.

You are throwing chairs and swiping books off of the shelves. You pick up scissors and start to scream. There are other children huddled in the corner of the classroom, scared and crying. The door slowly opens.

In walks our heroine, Mrs. Treatment. Dressed in a sensible and chic Ann Taylor Loft ensemble, she enters the classroom.

She stops, places her hand over her heart, and takes three deep breaths. This catches you, Cancer, off guard. You lower the scissors.

Mrs. Treatment takes her cue and gradually makes her way closer. She is now within arms distance. Your body language changes. Fists relax. Chin lowers.

Mrs. Treatment gently places her arm around you and, using her multi-tasking superpowers, simultaneously reassures the rest of the children, “You’re safe.”

You lean into Mrs. Treatment and, as one, you begin to walk towards the door. She whispers, “Time to go.”

So Cancer, here I sit. Day after day, recovering from surgeries. Day after day, receiving chemotherapy. And I think of you often.

I imagine Mrs. Treatment, the culmination of the people, medications, and surgeries, together working hard to, with minimal violence, remove you from my body.

You see Cancer, for me, I choose to heal.

@stephkennelly

To read this letter and the other letters to cancer, click here to read and download the June 2021 Magazine

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