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Open Letter to Cancer

Letter Writing is Therapeutic

You might be wondering, "Who writes a letter to cancer?" Well, I do. I have been writing letters for as far back as I can remember. I write letters to show appreciation, to show I care, for celebratory reasons.etc...

I also wrote letters to my parents to remind them to feed me since I was a middle child and often times I was forgotten about. But my parents always remembered to feed me, so my mission was accomplished.

Letters have a way of always living on. I still have letters that I had written and received while I was in school. Today we call that texting. I have no idea what it will be called next, but I am curious to find out.

When you write a letter you are sharing a piece of yourself. You are sharing a piece of your heart. You are expressing your inner most thoughts and feel relieved and pleased once the letter is complete. Some letters might be written and burned for therapeutic reasons.

Some letters might be to break off a relationship...never do that. That is just tacky. I know that now, I didn't know that back then. I actually wrote a letter to clear my mind and make a decision about the fate of a past relationship. I meant to burn the letter and at the same time I wrote a letter to my parents to remind them not to forget me when they left for our family vacation. Well, I ended up burning my parents letter and giving my parents my boyfriends letter and since they didn't like him they gave him the letter...oh my, it was an uncomfortable situation. But he and I moved on and luckily my parents remembered to take me on the family vacation.

My letter writing continued into my adulthood. It became a part of my life. So when cancer entered my life via my mother's diagnosis of colon cancer in 1997 and my husbands diagnosis of prostate cancer in 2008, I thought it was time to write a letter to cancer.

My mother was given 6 months to live after her initial diagnosis. She lived for 6 years. She fought hard. She was a trooper. My husband was given "death sentences" a few times, but it seems like he has more lives than a cat. He is more like a mountain lion.

I learned so much from my mother's and husband's battles that I felt it was time to share these lessons with other warriors and their loved ones.

Trust is important during a cancer journey, the doctors do the best they can with the knowledge that they have. There are always new discoveries and treatments to assist in your cancer battle. If you are given a death sentence, fight on. Do not give up.

Consider writing letters to de-stress. To make sense of the turmoil within your mind. Perhaps one of your letters will become a book one day. Imagine that!


Letter to cancer...

To Cancer; I'll get right to the point, you suck. There is nothing nice to say about you. You are mean, cruel and vile. Your destruction needs to be halted. Immediately. Realistically that isn't possible since you are a money maker for the pharmaceutical companies. You also keep oncologists employed. You continue to reap in the profits for hospitals even if they are a non-profit hospital.

What is possible is that modern medicine is slowly learning how to beat you. Scientists, technicians and laboratory geniuses are enhancing medical treatments which in turn allow cancer patients to live longer with a better quality of life. I bet that irritates you.

You are the biggest enemy to many. I wish nothing but the worst for you. I've witnessed you destroy loved ones by taking them to their knees. I've also witnessed total strangers bond due to your ugliness, but you won't get a kudos for that, that is due to patients and their families bonding to fight you back. You see there is something you might not be aware of...we, the people, are on this glorious earth to help one another, not hurt one another. You, while trying to inflict pain and agony might think you have the upper hand, but you do not. You are just a thing that is slowly being extinguished, not totally because like I said above, you bring in major bucks.

For instance, cigarettes are bad for the health. The government continues to tax them so the common people could no longer afford to smoke and will quit. They show TV commercials to scare smokers into kicking the habit and also scare young ones not to start smoking. But yet the government does nothing about stopping production of tobacco! Why? Because they are a money maker. The government doesn't give a crap about the smokers getting cancer! Why? Smoking and cancer together is a winning combination to line their pockets and the pockets of their buddies, the pharma and tobacco companies. By the way, all four of you suck! I get very ticked off when I feel injustice is being done. And, no, I do not suffer from any mental disorders, but you make me feel like I might be losing my mind at times, yet I always bounce back. I am stronger than you could ever imagine.

This letter is being written to you from an advocate's perspective. I've learned many lessons along my journey as a caregiver, cheerleader and supporter. And I take my job very serious. At times until I might get a bit delirious. But I do not back down.

A little about myself...I fight for what I believe in, I do not to stand in the sidelines and just whine and complain. I get things done, I don't just rely on others to speak up for me. I believe in myself and I know that with each battle I fight or help someone I care for fight, we could win the war and make a difference for others. I have faith in my passion and trust that my heart is leading me in the best direction.

A little about suck.

The lessons I have learned have changed me for the better. You've caused worry, stress, anxiety, heartache and I refuse to let you control my emotions any longer. You see, I am a nice person. I refuse to allow you to make me bitter or mean. I just don't operate that way. I always look for the positive in every negative. I always find one too. Even when dealing with cancer. Each and every day that we rise and shine is a gift. You do not have the power to take that gift away from any one. If you happen to succeed in doing so, it wasn't your power that did was the fact that the patient just didn't have the strength to fight, but they will get that strength back and then kick your ass once again.

I never imagined the destruction and chaos you could cause until I entered into your vicious world filled with turbulence and terror. You probably do not like yourself much. Or do you enjoy the power you have over others? It might surprise you to know that your power isn't as strong as you suppose it might be.

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It makes my heart happy to see patients receiving chemo treatments while laughing and sharing funny stories. That would probably annoy you which makes me even more happy. You do not have the upper hand. Deal with it.

We are not put on this earth to see
through one another
We are put on this earth to see
each other through

-Gloria Vanderbilt

Lessons I've learned

I've learned that you not only affect the patient but you affect their loved ones, their friends and families. You are ruthless and can often take matters to the extreme. I witnessed my mother's battle. You were very mean to her. She lost the battle but she died a hero, she never backed down.

I'm still here to fight my mother's fight and advocate for her. As my husband and I continue our fight, we vowed not to allow you to win. Our journey is not all about you. We find humor in all situations. We ridicule you and talk behind your back. You are a big bully and bullies never win.

I've learned that I shouldn't let my guard down because you are sneaky and hide out waiting to attack again without notice. Have you ever considered the aftermath of your damage? How you have drained people not only of their emotions and strength but you've also exhausted their life savings. You have no clue, do you? You just set out on a mission to destruct and try your best to succeed. I applaud the survivors who beat you. They kicked you to the curb...did it hurt? I hope so.

I've learned that we should expect the worst but always hope for the best with each new test, exam, xray and doctor visit. It's also important to make memories along the way because we never know what will happen from one day to the next. Support teams are crucial. Whether they are family members or support groups discovered elsewhere. Accepting life one day at a time is mandatory. There will be good days and bad days. Relish the good days and learn from the bad days.

I've learned that some people are scared and fear you. I used to fear you, I don't anymore. I just detest you, that's simpler for me to do. There's no point in complaining to others, or whining or saying "why me" because no one really wants to hear it. Sympathy actually makes a person weak. Instead I've learned to nudge victims of yours forward and remind them to hold their head high. It's vital to have patience with cancer patients. You might be trying your best to take them down, but I bet you didn't expect someone like me to bring them right back up. Yes, you have some competition, are you feeling a bit inadequate?

I've learned to embrace the small miracles. The tiniest bit of hope is always welcome and appreciated. Each day that we arise (even though you are festering in someone's body) it's still a gift that you could never take away! I've never heard one nice thing about you. Not one. You suck, is my favorite thing and I hear that quite often.

I've learned to always ask questions. There are no silly questions! Doctors might think they have all the answers but no one knows your body better than you do. Yes, cancer even you don't have no control at times. There are new medicines available every day that can whip your ass. Maybe the doctor isn't aware of them yet and I could teach him something new to help another patient. I bet you don't want us to know all the updated potential treatments but guess what we have access to many new updates. Google rocks, but you suck!

I've learned that we should always take a family or friend to each appointment. No matter how much strength the patient says they have, an extra set of ears is extremely important. While the patient speaks with the doctor, the team mate could take notes in a journal. A detailed journal is crucial. I call mine the cancer bible. I never enter a doctor's office without it. I have supplied information to doctors before they even received it in their personal file. Yes, they were a bit shocked, but doctors only have so much time allotted per patient, I'm their helping hand.

I've learned to appreciate the medical workers. The nurses, techs and PA's. They are human. They are usually working in an understaffed environment and might seem a bit frazzled at times. I go out of my way to make them feel appreciated with a compliment or a smile. I've witnessed them being yelled at by stressed out patients and rushing doctors for something that wasn't even their fault. I place myself in their shoes and treat them as I'd want to be treated. Hey cancer...not even you could make me a hateful person! The more damage you cause the more strength I obtain to help others fight you! Did I mention that you suck?