Monday, February 4, 2013

Today sucks

It's World Cancer Day.

My grandmother beat it. Her daughter, my aunt, didn't.

With all the gains we've made on the fighting cancer front, it still feels full of losses.

I know way too many people whose lives have been touched by this awful disease. Kids without parents. Wives without husbands. Brothers without sisters. All members of a club no one really wants to be a part of.

My cousin has spent the entirety of her teens without her mom. She's still just a kid. She's a strong, bright and kind kid, but she carries the burden of the loss with her every day. Her mom was her best friend. I held my cousin's hand five years ago in the hospital room when the doctors told us there was nothing more they could do. It's by far one of the worst days of my life. If not, the worst. It never leaves you. I can still smell the room sometimes and hear the sounds of the machines. I can't begin to imagine what it was like for her.

You just feel powerless when you see something like that. Makes you realize what it means to be human. Cancer killed 7.6 million people worldwide in 2008; my aunt included.

Goodness, this is so full of Debbie Downery, but I guess I keep hope alive today for my cousin... because maybe she won't have to be the 3rd generation of this cancer cycle. According to the National Cancer Institute, cancer rates are dropping for both genders, across ethnicity lines and for all different types of the disease.* Maybe we will all know of cancer deaths less and less. Maybe someday, for future generations, it will be like what polio is in the U.S. today.

Today is supposed to be about awareness and early detection. It's supposed to be about knowing how far we've come. There are curable cancers and a diagnosis isn't automatically a death sentence. There's a huge push for a healthier lifestyle these days so that we can reduce our risks as much as we can. All of these things give me hope.

I just want days like today to suck less.

* HPV-related cancers seem to be on the rise though.

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