What Could Be Pretty About Cancer?


I’d like to write about something inspirational, to focus on nature, something pretty in life or something hopeful. Instead, my mind is filled with sadness, anxiety, and despair. I suppose the same three words could easily be summed up into one: cancer.  What could be pretty about cancer?

Soon after my father married at the end of this past March his bride was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Together, they’ve been fighting the disease ever since with every ounce of strength imaginable.

I feel so very helpless because I am here in St. Louis while my father and his wife are living in Arizona. I can’t be there to hold his hand, run an errand, cook a meal or simply sit with him at the hospital. When he calls, his voice invariably cracks during his last few words. He struggles not to show his emotion, yet it is there, just beneath the surface. In my mind, there are tears in his eyes and I hear a choking sound in the back of his throat. My heart aches for my father.

Although not my decision, perhaps my father’s wife should have been in hospice for the last several weeks? There, she might have been more comfortable, able to hear her favorite music while visiting with her daughter and grandchildren? Yet, doctors and oncologists are willing to provide every treatment possible to prolong the inevitable end of life, especially when the patient has been sold on the slightest chance of more time.

More time for WHAT? More time for hair to fall out from chemotherapy treatments. More time to buy a wig. More time for a person’s skin to redden and dry from the effects of radiation. More time to lose the senses of taste and hearing. More time to wither away to skin and bones. More time to vomit and writhe in pain. More time to slowly die…..

If my father’s wife was a loved one to any of member of the team of doctors treating her, a wife, sister or mother, would the protocol of treatment have been the same?

Cancer…the only thing pretty about it is the love that has brought my father and his wife closer. For that I am thankful.

 

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20 thoughts on “What Could Be Pretty About Cancer?

  1. A thought provoking post Kim and so sorry that your father and his wife should be going through this. After 40 years of happy marriage and being widowed, someone I know remarried a lovely woman that he had known since childhood..a widow.. Six weeks later she was diagnosed with a brain tumour. They had six months together. Sometimes it is our role to be there for another who might have not known that happiness, even if it is for a short time. To be their strength at a time when they need it the most so that they do not go through it alone. I agree that there should be a time when prolonging life is weighed up in the light of quality of life. love and hugs.

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    • Thank you so much, Sally. My sympathy to your friend who recently experienced a truly parallel situation. Although I’ve forever known, ‘Life is not fair,’ never before have I questioned it so…Much appreciation for your love and support. Blessings. 🙏🏻

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    • I do know this, truly I do….and even I can not say what my own answer might be given the same situation. My dear mother did not take treatment, and during her last six months we spent some good times reminiscing, sharing holidays and living life. But again, what would I do? After one starts down the path, it’s very difficult to give up; almost like admitting defeat. So heartbreaking. Thank you for reading and comment, Patricia. You bring up excellent points.

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  2. Dear Kate, how many times is life bittersweet, unpleasant and painful. I can’t say I’m any less inclined to be angry when life throws us curveballs seemingly unhittable. But those who are pledged to try to heal don’t deserve the blame. And yes, without knowing the particulars in your step-mother’s case, the same protocols might have applied to the loved ones of medical staff. Trust me: I know physicians whose beloved spouses and parents died from cancer and other painful diseases and they too tried and fought and prayed to the end. I have a relative by marriage who was 88 when cancer developed in his body and he survived and is alive today at 94. Your stepmother was blessed with someone who would love and care for her in these trying days. Your support for their love is a great gift to your father.

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    • Thank you for your heartfelt words, Jane. I am not angry with physicians. They have saved my son’s life on more than one occasion. Tired, heartbroken and frustrated are my feelings at this point. And, there have been some doctors who I’m afraid have provided false hope. But then, that’s probably what my father wanted to hear at the time. There is no blame, and it is not for me to question, simply difficult to understand. Bless you for your words.

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      • Oh, I think that questioning is normal. The problem is that we can never have the answers, except sometimes looking back. My rabbi friend always says to me, “Oye. What do we know?” In our unfair expectations that medical staff should be able to save lives, eliminate pain AND predict the future, we fault them when they give false hope and when they say a condition is hopeless but the person survives. Ugh. Some months before my (artist) uncle died of ALS, he said to me “Life is beautiful.” Wishing you and your beautiful family continued loving. And health.

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      • My deepest thanks to you for ‘listening.’ Your uncle witnessed the best of living through the eyes of impending death. ‘Life is Beautiful.’ Blessings 🙏🏻

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  3. I feel for you and your loved ones, Kim. What a soul-testing time for all. Sending you a big hug, my dear, and I pray for strength for you all. I’m reminded of CS Lewis, who found love with Joy late in life, only to lose her right after. After her death, he wrote the famous book, A Grief Observed.

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    • Cynthia, thank you so very much for writing this. I’m going to download CS Lewis’s title tomorrow morning on Audible Books, if available. I haven’t been able to concentrate on actual reading, but listening to words is a new found love. Again, many, many thanks to you, Cynthia. ❤️🙏🏻

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  4. I appreciate your affection, Kim, for your father extending through to his recently acquired matrimonial relationship. You are such a lovely daughter, spouse, mother and grandmother. In the face of the dreaded C, it is a dilemma whether to go thorough painful treatment and prolong one’s agony, or to delink from it all and hasten the departure in as much comfort as possible. My well wishes are with you, your father and his spouse.

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    • Bless you, Raj, with sincere thanks to you for your thoughts and kind words to me. It most definitely is a personal choice, perhaps the most difficult one of all in life. This is why it hurts so much. When to ‘let go?’ Bless you always, Raj. 🙏🏻

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  5. My heart reaches out to you, Kim, and to your family. I don’t profess to understand this kind of suffering…or the lengths medicine goes to to prolong life. But I do know the pain…and I send you a hug filled with love. ♡

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