My parents were recently at a dinner honoring cancer survivors. One of the area’s local hospital systems puts it on annually and they love going to the event. It is full of inspirational speakers and motivational speeches. They attend with dear friends of theirs who are also both cancer survivors. And my dad is a cancer survivor of stage 3 kidney cancer.
During the event they always hear so many touching things. This year my dad’s oncologist was the emcee for the evening. He was sharing some of the things that cancer patients had shared with him over the years that really stuck with him. His number one item from a patient was this – “Everyone should have cancer for a day.”
After going through this with my dad, I wholeheartedly agree. Trust me, I am not wishing illness, heartache or anything like that on anyone. That’s not the point of saying this. But having cancer really changes your views on many things.
First, it teaches you to put things in perspective. The things that normally would upset or anger a person really don’t matter that much in the big picture. It’s the whole “don’t sweat the small stuff” thing that really resonates once cancer is in the picture. You can get angry with something someone said or did, get annoyed with someone’s driving, or upset that your house is a mess from the kids but ultimately that stuff is SO minor.
Every day is a true blessing, as you never know what is around the corner. I’m not saying to live in fear, but in fact, the opposite. Treat each day as a gift. Be grateful for every person you have in your life that matters and every memory you get to make with them. If you can get a better perspective on life and appreciate what really matters, then everyone should have cancer for a day.
True Colors and Generosity
Having cancer also shows the true colors of those around you. My parents (and also myself) had some people step up in big ways to help our family. They dropped off food, sent thoughtful cards, and most of all truly asked and cared how my dad was doing. We also had close people in our lives who never asked at all and acted like the cancer never had come. That hurt. Deeply. Trust me, the last thing we wanted to do was talk about Dad’s cancer 24/7. But the first time seeing a loved one or friend after it all went down, we expected a hug or just a “How’s he doing?”
My parents are some of the most generous people I know. They are always quick with a card, meal, stone, plant, you name it when something happens to someone they know. This situation and what all happened reaffirmed even more to continue to do all of these things and more. Everyone deals with cancer differently, but we will always be quick with a “How’s she doing?” “How are you?”, hug, meal and more after our ordeal. If something horrible like cancer can make you a more thoughtful and generous person, then everyone should have it for a day.
My parents were rocks during our family’s trial with cancer. Absolute pillars of strength. I am still in awe of how well they handled the cancer diagnosis, surgery and everything else that followed. Don’t get me wrong, there were definitely tears shed and scan days are still complete torture, but ultimately, they kept a positive attitude and unwavering faith that I am in total and complete admiration of.
There definitely could have been the vacuum of “Why me? Why us? Why now? What did I do wrong to deserve this?” There were moments of these thoughts, sure, but they didn’t win. Faith did. My parents grew so much in their faith and hung onto their hope that there are plans for them and this is just part of those plans. We often remarked that we don’t know what people do who don’t have hope for the future when cancer or other tragedy hits them. If a horrible thing like cancer can, in fact, make you grow in your faith and also spur a more positive attitude, then everyone should have cancer for a day.
I’m telling you, if something has the power to make you appreciate everything around you, make you have more empathy and compassion and generosity towards others and also grows your faith and positive attitude – everyone should have it. That’s why I agree with that patient that everyone should have cancer for a day. I can see why that stuck with the doctor all these years. Hopefully it sticks with you too.