This is what cancer looks like

This is what cancer looks like. It’s exhaustion. After the biopsy appointment that was supposed to last four hours and you’re in the hospital, cold and alone and hungry for seven hours. And no one thought to sit with you or hold your hand or offer you solace or call your family. You are elderly and tired and cranky and just want to go home. Instead you’re told to just wait in platitudes. And left alone in the hospital room.

This is what cancer looks like. The pharmacy denying your pain medications even when your doctor says you need them because there’s a new tumor or your pain has become so unmanageable that you cannot sleep. Because “we” are fighting a war on opioids. So you’re just collateral damage because palliative care for cancer patients does not factor into winning a war.

This is what cancer looks like. One day to the next, trying to maintain a routine, and schedule, a sense that maybe tomorrow your life will be back to normal. You are fighting for that routine and that normal. And it isn’t. But you keep at it, walking the dogs and cleaning the kitchen and tending the garden and making meals. Because that is life. Life is the small things that sustain and keep you going. So you keep going.

This is what cancer looks like. It is everything you thought was going to be your life winnowed down to a small point of taking this breath and then the next. And the next. So you keep breathing.

This is what cancer looks like. Like me – the daughter of the parent with cancer. Or – the son. The father. The mother. The wife. The husband. The partner. The sibling. All of us who watch cancer and at times feel helpless to stop it. Helpless to ensure treatment. Helpless in the waiting rooms, in the emergency rooms, in the hospitals, in the doctor’s office, and at the bedside.

This is what cancer looks like. Some days, it may look like cancer is winning. But it isn’t. We cannot give up. Not for my mom. Not for your loved one. Because one day, cancer isn’t going to look like this anymore. One day, we will kick cancer’s ass. Today, I am the tired daughter. Tomorrow, I’ll be back in the fight. Never give up. My mom has not. No one should. Keep fighting.  #f*ckcancer

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