Dear Cancer, I Wish You the Worst

by Brandon GutteridgeJune 25, 2021View more posts from Brandon Gutteridge

Dear Cancer,

I know it’s been several years since we’ve last spoken, but I thought it was finally time for me to touch base with you. We had a toxic relationship, which may be the only thing we can agree on. You were a seasoned vet at heartbreak and turmoil by the time you’d met me. You’d had years of practice, preying on the young, the old, the vulnerable, the strong and already frail – you indiscriminately forced yourself into people’s lives at your whimsy.

It’d be easy for me to say things to you like: FUCK YOU!!! You wasted years of my life, you hurt my friends and family, you took my future children away from me, or that I put my career on hold for you. But things like that are what you’re exactly expecting me to say. You knew you were going to hurt me from the moment you entered my life. You don’t have any remorse for the pain you’ve caused me or countless others. Instead of focusing on that, I just wanted to write you and let you know how I’ve been doing since we last saw each other.

I’ve moved numerous times and think I’ve finally found a quiet place away from you. You’ve stalked me through so many cities, I’m surprised you haven’t found me here yet. But I don’t think you will. Bi-annually I check up on where you are and what you’ve been up to, and so far, it doesn’t seem like you’re close to finding me again. Each time I move, I carry the usual: clothes, some furniture, and a few mementos, but unlike most, I bring pages and pages of notes I’ve made about you. Your usual haunts, your calling cards, a rap sheet too long to count. Every time I move, I hook up with a new pro at finding scum like you. They’re at the top of their field and have assured me that I’ve concealed myself away from you well.

You tried to keep me to yourself, a soulless captor, trying to exclude me from the outside world. But I’ve met a ton of people – by your own doing, ironically. You thought you could take that away from me – the feeling of inclusivity, of belonging, of community. But I’m not an outcast. We get together, relish in our stories about how you were so shitty to each of us, and then play cards or watch a movie: something nonchalant as we brush by our encounter with you. A brief passing in the night is what you’ll be to a lot of us.

You made me feel like absolute shit. Days when I couldn’t even get off the couch. Days that I don’t even remember because I took so much medication to avoid you. Days that I’d spend vomiting at the thought of you. Days when you abused me – left my ears ringing, my body tingling, my skin flushed. But you know what? I’m off that couch – I threw that thing away a long time ago. My memory? Perfectly fine if you’re not in it. My stomach? Now only churns on roller coasters. My body? Loved more now than it ever has been before.

You tried to control me in so many ways, but the worst was your attempt to control my future progeny. You didn’t want children; you’ve never wanted children. You thought you could project that onto me. Little did you know that I’ve been warned about you. I knew I needed to hide that part of myself from you; store it somewhere safe, where you couldn’t touch it or even knew it existed. My family may not be how I always dreamed it would be, but it will be more beautiful and meaningful to me than ever.

You tried to take away my self-identity. You fucked with my hormones, gave me grief until my hair fell out, made me gain weight as I tried to cope. But you know what? Hair grows back, I love my body, and you probably wouldn’t even recognize me if you saw me today.

I don’t know if this letter will even reach you. God only knows where you are right now and what you’re up to. Just know that I truly wish you the worst in life. I think you’ll continue on your path but know that your days are numbered. There’s a whole world against you. Each year we learn more about your deceptions – where you like to hide, when you like to strike, what your tell-tale signs are. You’ve generally avoided prosecution for the entirety of human existence, but it won’t be long until you’re no longer allowed to show your face again. Until you are diminished to what you’ve tried to make others – insignificant.

Ciao forever

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

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