When someone in your family gets cancer, especially when it’s your baby, everyone gets cancer. Your life changes forever, and so does your perspective on life. All of a sudden the fragility of life stares you in the face and you can NOT look away. You just have to face it, and come to terms with it, as hard as it may be. You have to be stronger, and braver, and smarter than you have even been before, but I know first hand it is possible.
I came across this analogy a while ago and re-read it today, and it is %100 worthy of sharing as it is the absolute best description I have ever read of what a cancer journey is like. As far as I can tell it was written by Caitlin Feeley years ago, but if someone reads this and knows for sure please let me know so I can give proper credit.
“What’s it like to go through cancer treatment? It’s something like this: one day, your minding your own business, you open the fridge to get some breakfast, and OH MY GOD THERE”S A MOUNTAIN LION IN YOUR FRIDGE. Wait, what? How? Why is there a mountain lion in your fridge? NO TIME TO EXPLAIN. RUN! THE MOUNTAIN LION WILL KILL YOU! UNLESS YOU FIND SOME EVEN MORE FEROCIOUS TO KILL IT FIRST!
So you take off running, and the mountain lion is right behind you. You know that the only thing that can kill a mountain lion is a bear, and the only bear is on top of the mountain, so you better find that bear. You start running up the mountain in hopes of finding the bear. Your friends desperately want to help, but they are powerless against mountain lions, as mountain lions are godless killing machines. But they really want to help, so they are cheering you on, and bringing you cups of water and orange slices as you run up the mountain and yelling at the mountain lion- ” GET LOST, MOUNTAIN LION, NO ONE LIKES YOU”- and you really appreciate the support, but the mountain lion is still coming.
Also for some reason, there’s someone in the crowd who’s yelling “that’s not really a mountain lion, it’s a puma” and another person yelling “I read that mountain lions are allergic to kale, have you tried rubbing kale on it?”
As your running up the mountain you see other people fleeing their own mountain lions. Some of the mountain lions seem comparatively wimpy- they’re half grown and only have three legs or whatever, and you think to yourself- why couldn’t I have gotten one of those mountain lions? But then you look over and see people fleeing mountain lions the size of a monster truck with huge prehistoric saber fangs, and your feel like an a****** for even thinking that- and besides who in their right mind would want to fight a mountain lion, even a three-legged one?
Finally the person closest to you, whose job it is to take care of you- maybe a parent or friend or sibling or best friend, or in my case, my husband-comes barging out of the woods and jumps on the mountain lion, whaling on it and screaming “GODDAMMIT MOUNTAIN LION, STOP TRYING TO EAT MY WIFE”, and the mountain lion punches your husband right in the face. Now your husband(or whoever it is) is rolling around on the ground clutching his nose, and he’s bought you some time, but you still need to get to the top of the mountain.
Eventually you reach the top, finally, and the bear is there. Waiting. For both of you. You rush right up to the bear, and the bear rushes the mountain lion, but the bear has to go through you to get to the mountain lion, and in doing so, the bear TOTALLY KICKS YOUR ASS, but not before it also punches your husband in the face. And now your husband is staggering around with a black eye and bloody nose, and saying “can I get some help, I’ve been punched in the face by two apex predators and I think my nose is broken”, and all you can say is “I’M KINDA BUSY IN CASE YOU HADN’T NOTICED I’M FIGHTING A MOUNTAIN LION.”
Then, IF YOU ARE LUCKY, the bear leaps on the mountain lion and they are locked in epic battle until finally the two of them roll off a cliff together, and the mountain lion is dead. Maybe. You’re not really sure – it fell off the cliff, but mountain lions are crafty. It could come back at any moment.
And all your friends come running up to you and say “that was amazing! You’re so brave, and we’re so proud of you! You didn’t die! That must be a huge relief!” Meanwhile you blew out both knees, you’re having an asthma attack, you twisted your ankle, and also you have been mauled by a bear. And everyone says “boy you must be excited to walk down this mountain!” And all you can think as you stagger to your feet is F*** this mountain, I never wanted to climb it in the first place.”