Cancer Sucks

We all know that, but it just seems like lately too many people that I know are battling with it.

A few months ago I saw someone that meant a great deal to me when I was growing up.  She had the same smile, but a different body.

She’s dying of cancer.  Not sick with it. Dying of it.

After I saw her I sat in my car and cried.  I cried for her pending passing, and I cried for my inability to know how to act around her.

When I saw her, I treated her just like I would have if she hadn’t been sick.  Was acting normally, and by normally I mean asking about her children but skirting the issue of her health, the right thing to do?  Did it make it seem like I was oblivious to what I was seeing  or insensitive?  Should I have acknowledged what I saw and instinctively knew?  I wish I had the answer, but I’ll never ask.

I did the same thing when my uncle died, you know.  I just acted like everything was peachy and have regretted it for years.  I wish I would have told my uncle all the things I wanted to, but didn’t.  I wish I had had the nerve to have a real conversation with him about real thoughts and feelings.

Obviously a deep conversation would not have been appropriate in this chance meeting with my friend, but still………

I decided that since didn’t know how to confront the issue face to face, I’d write her a letter.  I held onto the letter for a few weeks before giving it to Jeff to read and then mail if he thought it was appropriate. I hate that I am so unsure of what is appropriate and what is not in situations like this.  He mailed the letter, and when I found out my stomach knotted.  What if it was offensive in some way?  Does anyone that is dying really want goodbyes?

This is part of how I prefaced the letter:

So……..here I am.  Not knowing if my words will be able to express what I’ve wanted to say to you……..but hoping…..really hoping that I don’t mess this up and you’ll accept my words as heartfelt……….and that if as I type them I have tears in my eyes for not doing this before and probably only because of what I saw when I saw you because I’m, well, me, you’ll forgive me.”

I received word that my letter meant a lot to my friend. Truthfully, I was worried.  I had only good intentions, but I just was so unsure.  I thought it would make me feel better hearing that, but the truth of the matter is that I still feel terrible that she is dying.  I think of her children losing their mother and my heart feels like it’s bleeding for them.  I think of how I’d feel as a mother and a child in this situation and it breaks my heart.

I hate that.  I hate cancer.  I hate that it makes me feel like a fool that doesn’t know what to do or say.  What I really hate though is that it attacks people.  And it’s just not fair.

Comments

  1. 1

    Kirsten says

    Oh, Angie, that is heart wrenching. You are so tender and compassionate. I believe you handled it beautifully and so gracefully expressed it with your words. I love you my friend and I am sorry for your sorrow.

  2. 2

    says

    Awww, this is such a touching and emotional post Angie. I think you did the right thing given the circumstance. Cancer is such a terrible disease. Thanks for sharing such a personal post hun.

  3. 3

    says

    Mom has cancer and it does suck. She has been going through it for 10 years but does not look sick. Just be honest. When mom was going through chemo and lost her hair, she felt better when she was wearing her scarf and people asked how she was doing then when they pretended nothing was wrong. Just a simple, “How is everything going?” Luckily mom is not dying of cancer, she is just sick with it. Cancer is no longer the death sentence it once was, but it still gets too many dang people!!

  4. 4

    says

    I can completely understand your position. Like you, I have lost people in my life to Cancer, and it sucks. I am so fearful of cancer and what it does to not only the person suffering but to all those around them. In my heart, I think you did the right thing by reaching out to her.

  5. 5

    says

    I’m sorry to hear about your friend. Cancer is such an ugly thing.

    I had a friend who unfortunately lost her battle last month. I never knew what to say to her. I was afraid she would think I didn’t care when I talked to her like everything was ok, but I also didn’t want to upset her by talking about her cancer. I think you did the right thing by expressing how you feel. My heart goes out to you and your friend.

  6. 6

    says

    I never know the right thing to say or do in those situations. Do I ask? Do I not? Which is the most caring? I also don’t want to end up break down crying about the situation, because that’s really unfair. Me, healthy, and having to be consoled by the person who is actually sick.

    It sounds like you found the right way to handle it.

  7. 8

    says

    Angie ~ My youngest sister is dying from cancer. I am so sick of her being sick. You are right. It is hard to know what to say. Every person is different. Every day is different. There is no right thing. There is no right time. All we, the ones suffering from watching the suffering, can do is open our hearts and bleed out loud.

    You did a brave thing writing that letter. You did the right thing.

  8. 10

    says

    I lost my father to lung cancer. And you are right. It sucks. It sneaks in and steals the people we love. And I still don’t really know what to say either. It leaves you speechless in a way.

  9. 11

    says

    I lost a good friend to breast cancer a year and a half ago after a three year battle. The whole time, I never knew what to say, or do. She died before I ever really got to tell her how I felt about her…anyway, I think you did the right thing.

  10. 13

    says

    I was recently diagnosed, and we don’t want people to say or treat us any different! One thing that stands out in my mind is when people would ask “Do you need anything?” or “If you need anything.” Well I am not the type of person to ask for anything and when I did get stuck in a situation and needed a sitter for Chucky, nobody was there.
    When my best friends dad got cancer instead of asking if they needed anything I just did it!
    We don’t want anything to change, we want to be treated the same and looked at the same{event though our bodies have changed, hair etc} we are still the same- with maybe a little bit of a broken spirit but that is where our friends and family come in!
    I hope you know that we know it does affect those around us, but we don’t want it to be “awkward”
    You did the right thing in writing your friend a letter, it probably helped her to better understand how you are feeling and how she feels too!
    I hope this clears up a little and makes you realize that yeah “cancer sucks” but God only gives us what we can handle{including the people around us that don’t have cancer} and it will only make us stronger!

  11. 16

    says

    If cancer had a face…not the face of it’s victims, but a face I could punch…I would. When I was little my grandmother died on our sofa, while trying to fight her breast cancer. It’s a horrible disease, and the cure can’t come quick enough.

    Hugs and Mocha,
    Stesha

  12. 17

    says

    uhhh Angie, I am so very sorry about your friend how heartbreaking. I have known to many people that have died of cancer. It seems to be going around way too much. I will be praying for her and her family.

  13. 19

    says

    It’s not fair at all. Cancer sucks. Cancer took my dad and I hate that cancer has crept into my own life. But I’m still here. I’ve got so much to be thankful for.

  14. 21

    says

    Cancer is like that awkward person that hovers around at a party, listening in and making itself known, when you are trying really hard to ignore it. You dont know what to say when it’s around.

    I’m sorry for your loss, I know how it feels. We have lost too many friends and relatives to it. It’s really scary.

  15. 22

    says

    you are me. right now. my friend’s husband (well, he’s a friend too) has been given one month to live. ONE MONTH. their daughters are 18 and 20 and besties with my 2 eldest, the 18 year old has had to come home from overseas study and she can’t go back, AND she can’t study here now because she’s not qualified. it sucks so bad. we have known them for 15 years, but the wife, whilst my friend, is not a ‘girlfriend’, however we invite them to our parties and have watched the girls grow up over the years. when i found out that he had one month to live, i had NO IDEA what to do. i didn’t want to pick up the phone (too intrusive), or email (too impersonal), so i made a card and put flowers in the letterbox then texted the daughter (my 20 year’s BF) and she took them in and i know that the mum got them, read the card and passed on her thanks. if she’d wanted to talk to me then she would have picked up the phone, but i feel so completely USELESS. i’ve been told, don’t put off going to see him, because you’ll regret it, but i don’t want to intrude. both the girls have been overseas recently, so they haven’t been together in a while (he’s been fighting this for a couple of years but it’s just overwhelming him now). i’m thinking of writing a letter about all the things about him that make me smile, and hope that i pluck up the courage to call and that i get to see him before he gets too sick for visitors.

    hugs – you did the right thing, which is what you knew to do at the time.

  16. 23

    says

    Hugs Angie. I can only imagine how difficult this is for you. I recently had a close friend get diagnosed with breast cancer. They gave her a 40% chance of survival. She has daughters just older and younger than my girls. I wept for days thinking of how hard it must be for her dealing with everything. I too sent her a letter and care package telling her all the wonderful things about and how amazing and strong she was. We talked afterwards and I know she really appreciated my words. She is since in remission and fighting on. It looks hopeful for her. I pray for you and her family during this time.

  17. 24

    says

    What can you even say in a post like this? You did the right thing.

    My girlfriend’s son was diagnosed with leukemia in November. He’s Seven. Seven. What do you say to a mother when her son is battling a life-long fight… and he’s only Seven.

    It’s not fair.

  18. 25

    kiki says

    amazing post. thank you for sharing this story. my thoughts are with you and your friend. cancer does suck big time. my mom is an ovarian cancer survivor, but none of us at the time thought she would survive. she wanted us to be normal around her and talk about anything other than cancer. take care.

  19. 26

    says

    Oh, Angie. I have tears in my eyes just reading your post! That is so horrific and sad. 🙁 I think it’s wonderful that you sent her that letter — I’m sure she appreciated it. It is hard to feel so helpless. *hugs*

  20. 27

    says

    Honestly, I would have acted exactly the same. I just don’t know what to do or say in situations like this. I think that you did the best you could, and sending the heartfelt letter was the right thing to do. Your friend knows that you love her and are thinking about her, even if you couldn’t find the words to tell her. That’s the most important part.

  21. 28

    says

    Oh Angie, how awful! I hate Cancer too, and since I suffer from it and every time I think it’s over…it’s strikes again. And you know, I never know what I even want people to say…or what to say to others I know going through what I am….
    And all I ever ask or offer to others is strength….the strength to endure what you need to, I ask to love, for each and every person to always remember the love in their hearts and to pass it on each and every day as if it were your last. Laugh….laughter really is the best medicine, despite the world and it’s short comings! And I always think of the best and most precious memories I have of a person, so that if God forbid, cancer does take them, I can pass on that memory so that they may live on forever through me and everyone I tell!

  22. 29

    says

    I’ll echo the same sentiment that cancer does indeed suck.

    I can appreciate that you wanted to “pretend” that all was well and good because I understand that you were unsure of what exactly to say or to avoid getting emotional, saying the wrong thing, etc.

    Having personally fought the cancer battle, I would have to say that your friend probably truly loved your letter. I know I always appreciated when someone reached out to see how I was doing, even if it was via letter or email. Yes, I wanted everything to “seem” normal but I knew that it was not and I did want others to recognize that too. Self-indulgent, maybe, but screw it, I was fighting the hardest battle of my life!

    Don’t beat yourself up over it.

  23. 30

    says

    Oh goodness, I am so sorry. I feel terrible and I find myself praying each night to God for just people in general who are dealing with and dying of cancer. I have been fortunate so far in that I don’t know anyone personally going through it but feel like it’s only a matter of time. That scares me.

    You did the right thing.

  24. 31

    says

    I think it’s only natural to not know what to say or how to deal with death. Whenever I happen to chance upon an old friend or acquaintance, I think of it as a sign from God that this person needs me and somehow I need them too. This is how you should view this moment. This friend needed to know that she is loved and that people care about her. You needed to face your fear about death and be there for her.

    Even though you only shared a small snippet of your letter, I’m sure your words were very comforting to your friend. Having read many of your posts here, I can only assume that to be true. You are a wonderful person and God loves you for it. God bless. xox

  25. 32

    Melissa says

    I’ve felt the same way… Not sure how to react? Do they want to talk about it? Or are they sick of talking about it? It’s so hard… We’ve had a ton of people in our ward getting cancer it’s just crazy!

  26. 34

    says

    Reading your post brings up so many memories … mostly of my dad’s death to cancer in February of 1976 … just two months after he realized and told me he was sick. I had trouble accepting the fact but after watching him waste away I was able to talk with him honestly before he passed and I’m glad I did. Currently I have a friend dying of cancer … we thought we’d lose her two years ago but somehow she’s managed to hang on. We spent lots of time together and talk honestly with one another … taking things day by day … but you’re so right. Cancer sucks!
    Hugs and blessings,

  27. 35

    says

    Oh Angie! I don’t think you are alone at all. Even a year after Tuesday’s passing, I struggle with the right words when I see or talk to Jess. I don’t know what to say. Do I mention Tuesday? Do I tell Jess I miss her too? Does she want me to be just “normal”?
    I don’t think there is any right way to be. I think that just by being a friend and expressing your love… it’s all they need and if we stumble on the words, our friends forgive.

    (((HUGS)))

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