When you start this journey as a newly minted cancer patient, the focus tends to be all inward. Why is this happening to me? What does this diagnosis mean for me? What treatments will the doctors give me? Can they cure me? And so on.
I believe that’s driven by our deep-seated, natural survival instinct. I’d like to think so, because it was mine.
As you transform from recently diagnosed newbie to experienced long-hauler, you begin to look outward as well. You make friends among the patients you meet – at the cancer clinic, in the support groups, at the patient education conferences. Over time, those new friends – facing the same stakes you do – become a kind of second family. Your cancer tribe.
There will be many wonderful moments with your new friends. Reports of clear scan results. Birthday parties you thought you might never see. Celebrations over news of disease remission. Picnics just for fun. You’ll lend them support. They’ll do the same for you.
Eventually, though, the inevitable will occur. One of your fellow tribe members will lose the battle with their disease. In that moment, the loss is deep and resonant.
Since my diagnosis, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and befriend two wonderful souls whose cancer journeys have come to an end. One roughly a year ago, the other very recently.
Each was a valiant soldier in the battle for life. I’m blessed to have known them. I’m gutted to have lost their good spirits and fine humor. The world has been robbed of two beautiful people.
In this age of helicopters on Mars and artificial intelligence, it’s sometimes hard to believe we’re still unable to beat this dastardly foe. Please, let’s all remember to do our part and encourage by every means we can the amazing, ongoing efforts to find new ways of fighting and some day winning the war against cancer.
A cure can’t come too soon.