Dear Cancer, You Were Never Fully in Charge

by Iram LeonSurvivorJune 8, 2022View more posts from Iram Leon

Dear Cancer,

You are already a power hog, a bully, so I try to ignore you believing that negative behavior is just desperate for attention. Perhaps if I don’t give it to you, you will go away.

That has only worked to some degree. I am a guy who had never called in sick. From kindergarten to college, I missed five days due to the chicken pox and then when you bastardized some of my brain cells, it was two plus years before I had a month without a medical appointment. Your “side effects” of seizures kept me from driving for three plus years; you couldn’t think of making your side hustle more fun?

I put off brain surgery to run a marathon; I was inspired enough to qualify for Boston. Recently, as in a few months ago, I ran it for the third time since you and I met. Let me be clear, the fear of death and the awareness of mortality inspired me to love life. 

Having a lower chance of survival gave me a reason to make good choices such as focusing on current relationships. At some level, the probability that I wouldn’t make it to 40 made me eat dessert more since eating healthy hadn’t stopped you. The caffeine and alcohol restrictions I had because of you made me drink rum and coke after happy cancer moments just so I could prove you were never fully in charge. 

I am not going to say thank you, Cancer, for the lessons. The lessons came from good people, from the community that put us in the same place where we bonded over our shared humanity.

I am trapped here having to talk to you; I wish I wasn’t. I want the day to come where no one has to talk to you because we have gotten you to go away. You have probably read between the lines regarding some of the four letter words you inspire. But still, I go with hope—hope is my four letter word. With that said, I am going to go talk with the people I like and love; those who are healthy for me.

Iram J. Leon

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

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