May 16, 2009

Relay for Life

So, for once, I'm not going to post something witty or dramatic. Nope, this time, I'm using my energies towards something positive, something good.

I've lost too many family members to cancer. Both of my grandmothers before I was even 12. I vividly remember the day that I found out my Grandma Nola had died. I was sitting in the office at school -- back then, one of the novelties of being in grade 6 was that you were considered mature enough to give the secretary a break during the lunch hour. I would answer the phone, page people and generally feel like a grown up. I reveled in it.

This day, I was sitting at the desk, swinging my legs and spinning the chair in half circles (because only children spun around in chairs). I saw my father come in through the main doors. "What's he doing here?" I thought to myself. He did one of those millisecond pauses when he saw me...the powerful stride that had always comforted me tensed ever so slightly and I knew. I just knew.

"Hey, sweetie," he said in an overly happy tone, "I didn't expect to see you here." He asked to speak with the principal. He went in and I could here the sounds of their discussions, but everything was a blur. There was a knot in my stomach and I didn't know what to do.

Dad came out of the office, "We need to go, hon." he said quietly, and I just nodded and got my stuff ready. Later, in the car, he started to tell me, but I just said "I know." I didn't cry, because I had to be strong. I'd seen my mother, aunts and grandfather in heart wrenching pain as they waited, knowing that there was nothing that they could do to either ease my grandmother's pain or make that black, evil Cancer go away.

I don't know how much time had passed but it seemed only months to me that my Grandma Stella passed. She'd fought, long and hard, but it seemed, to my young mind, that Cancer was a ferocious enemy that knew no defeat. Strangly, I can't remember much of the details of her passing, I just knew it was what it was, and that once again, I had to be strong.

Years went by, I grew up, got married and had chidlren. The joys of my life. My grandfather, long a widower, was now sitting with my daughter on his lap the way he used to do with me. Soon, I had a son, and not long after he was born I got the news...Grandpa's got colon cancer. He'd hidden the signs until the pain was too much for him to take anymore. I think he just wanted to see his wife again. I hoped and prayed that he'd have the chance to see his great-grandson (who had been born on the other side of the world). Unfortunately, he never got to.

Another few Cancer free years passed. Then, my dad got the flu. Horribile stomach pains that just wouldn't let up. The flu lasted from Septemeber right until December. Then he found out that it wasn't a flu bug after all. There was a tumor, greedily feeding off of his large intestine. Suddenly a whirl of surgeries, and scans and tests....and fear. All I had known of Cancer was death, and I was now facing it with my own father.

The tumor was removed, but there were still signs of Cancer in his lymph glands. Chemo was started. He lost some hair, he gained some weight, he lost the feeling in his hands. But, he didn't lose hope. He won the battle.

A year went by, and suddenly there were more worrying test results. This time, they showed a growth on the liver. More surgeries, more scars, more chemo. This time, the feelings in his hands and feet didn't come back. Though it put up quite a battle, the Cancer was defeated again.

I now live a life with a big question mark around me. Who's next? What kind of cancer will I get? Have I passed on some defective genes to my own children? Have I sentenced them to pain and suffering?

I want to find a cure. I think it's possible, and I can only hope and pray that it's something that is seen sooner, rather than later. WHich is why I decided to participate in The Relay for Life. I'm putting the link here, and I'd appreciate any donations, every bit helps.


Meaghan said...

Thank you-

Anonymous said...

You are awesome Heather!!!

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