poetry • art • marriage • momhood • faith

not a happy bouncy post.

Cancer.

It’s a recurring theme in my poetry and what my hypochondriac-in-denial self is sure to die from, if I don’t die of a heart attack or in a car crash first.

The thought of it scares the crap out of me, turns my insides to mush, makes my throat tight. And that’s when I think of someone else having it.

At the same time, I think I romanticize it in my head. Not that there’s anything romantic about damaged cells going haywire, slowly overpowering a person’s body from the inside out; nor is there a damned thing that’s romantic about chemo or multiple surgeries or any of the other miserable things that cancer can bring. But with any serious illness, there’s inevitably a bit of “do not go gentle…rage, rage” Dylan Thomesque romanticism.

I heard a bit on the radio last week about how cancer survival rates are steadily improving. This does not stop me from imagining a mole on my shoulder is mutating or getting sick over a lump in my chest that was just a cyst.

Cancer freaks me out. I don’t drink pop anymore because of being paranoid about how the damage the acidity does & the free radicals the sugar creates. So everything is water or something with antioxidants or vitamins in it. Lots of antioxidants. Borderline obsession here. (In some nostalgic way, I feel sad that my kids probably won’t know what it’s like to down a quart of red Kool-aid in 30 seconds flat after running around outside on a summer day. I’ll make them drink, I don’t know, guava juice instead. That could get expensive. Still.)

The first person I remember dying was a classmate of mine in first grade. He was hardly there. And when he was, he got to wear his ball cap in class; he was bald from the chemo. I never really got to know him, but he was in our class picture at least. I think it was right at the end of the school year that Brian died of Leukemia.

About two and a half years later, my maternal grandmother went to the hospital. A short couple weeks later, we were at her funeral. At 59 years old, she had died of colon cancer that had spread too far before it was caught.

Not too long after that friend of the family died of a brain tumor. I think he was in his mid 30’s.

A few months back, a close friend was dealing with a cancer scare. The worst part about it for me was that I had no idea how to “be there for her.” I had no clue what to say or do. Any time the thought came up, I felt like retching. Other people have “survivor stories” to share, but for me, “cancer” means “death.” Even if it doesn’t.

Tonight at church, I found out someone who means a great deal to me & my family, someone who is a key reason why we live in the city we do, is going in for surgery on Wednesday to have a tumor removed from his colon. There are also spots on the liver that need to be checked out. The whole scenario is too eerily similar to my grandmother’s story. I haven’t been right since church.

So, do me a personal favor, will ya? Pray, meditate, send good karma his way on Wednesday and for his recovery thereafter. I trust God knows what He’s doing, but happy thoughts can’t hurt, right?

“Don’t you know we are immortal
until our work is done?”

~ missionary Ruth Thompson
as quoted by Ellen Vaughn
in her book,
Time Peace

5 Comments

  1. Bree Bree
    March 5, 2008    

    Prayers and good thoughts being sent your way from the Pacific Northwest. I hope they help.

  2. artjewl artjewl
    March 5, 2008    

    Thanks, Bree.

    He came out of surgery well, but it was confirmed that the tumor and spots his liver were cancer.

    Also, as another downer, one of my best friends from high school emailed me this morning to say her dad has cancer as well.

    That’s two. Where’s the third?

  3. Bree Bree
    March 5, 2008    

    I hope there is no third. I’ll put that in my prayers for you as well.

  4. Ginger Ginger
    March 6, 2008    

    thoughts of highest good being sent for you and your friend and your other friend’s father…don’t look for the third.

    …peace…

  5. Chucka Stone Designs Chucka Stone Designs
    March 6, 2008    

    I know I am late here but I am now sending thoughts & prayers for his speedy recovery for sure. Please keep us updated on how he is doing but equally important how YOU are doing too. There does not need to be anyone else, you’ve met your quota for sure! Take care of you 🙂

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torch bearing quietly

I will not act out, will not
yell or curse or slam doors,
will not make a scene -- you
do not deserve such a chance
to make an example out of me
to be proven right since you
are not. Instead, I'll stand
at this street corner, raise
my hand high and clench that
light which yet remains. It
will burn brightly, quietly,
fiercely before fading as I.

Then I'll be gone but found.

©JAC 2005

Poetry by Julie Ann Cook!

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Love Like Weeds
by Julie Ann Cook
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