Dear Cancer, It’s Me

by Shannon CartySurvivorJune 27, 2022View more posts from Shannon Carty

Dear Cancer,

It’s me. The one your cells decided to affect with your invasive takeover. It’s me. The one you decided would fight your battle. It’s me. The one that is now advocating for those who cannot anymore. It’s me. The one who cannot fathom why you chose her to survive. It’s me. Do you recognize me? Because some days you make it hard for me to recognize myself.

They say to expect the unexpected, but I did not realize that these would be the terms of unexpected for me. After my diagnosis, I found it difficult to grasp your concept. I did not realize what torture you had just involuntary signed me up for when my body became associated with your disease. Why do you put innocent humans through your intensity? There is no justified reason for the fact that I am the one suffering through your battle.

I always heard about how hard it is to be diagnosed with your disease, to battle your disease, and the invasive medicines that are associated with your disease. So, what didn’t I hear about you that has left the biggest impact on my mind, body, and soul? Not enough people discuss the constant daily battle with yourself to destroy this disease that has formed within you, even after you physically left my body. Four years post treatment, and I am still left with constant battles in my brain to be OK with what happened. I am expected to be “normal” again after I fought your battle, but every single day I am left questioning my own self-worth. You destroyed me, but that does not mean I am going to let you win.

So, I don’t think dear is the correct word for cancer. It is not a dear disease, and it does not deserve that acknowledgement. So, what words can I gather to make sense of you? Truth be told, I do not believe anyone can truly comprehend you. I do not even think I have been able to understand my own journey with you. I say with the utmost respect that you will not understand my cancer journey, and I will not understand yours, but this is not our fault.

No two cancer journeys are quite the same. However, one thing I do not believe—rather what I know about each cancer journey—is that each fighter conquers you. Though we do this with different outcomes, I have never seen a person lose their battle to cancer. Because collectively, we are not letting you win, cancer. All cancer fighters battled you, and that is a hopeful win for all of us as a community.

For some, you are a life sentence, and what gives you this right? I never realized the burdens that would come with my outcome of survival, and I can’t fathom why I was chosen to survive. What I do know is that my battle gave me a purpose, one that I care about. Arguably, it is my top priority and passion being a survivor. Because as a survivor, the opportunity to use my first-hand knowledge and words to express what others cannot because of you is my main mission. I know that the passion behind my mission to help others who battled what I battled will make a difference in this community, and this is a sign of hope for all.

So dear cancer, it’s me. I am angry with you. It’s me. The one that won’t let you win. It’s me. The one that knows that the ones you have taken as a victim have risen above your low blow. It’s me. The one whose life has completely changed, because of you. It’s me. The one who now sees that you will not take me away from me.

This article was in the 2022 Dear Cancer issue of Elephants and Tea Magazine! Click here to read our magazine issues.

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