These days, cancer seems to impact pretty much everyone. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer recently and Gal’s mom, who I loved very much, died from cancer about 8 years ago. For her, cancer was a long battle. She beat it over and over again for many years, until it beat her.
A very close aunt of mine died from cancer, and another aunt is fighting cancer for the third time now. Gal himself had cancer about 5 years ago.
And you know what? Life is not the same. Even if you are fortunate enough to recover, life is not the same anymore. It becomes divided between “before” and “after” the discovery.
Last night, Gal and I watched the movie “The Fault in Our Stars“, which is a love story about 2 youngsters with terminal cancer. This made me think about it again.
For some people, cancer is a wake-up call that makes them embrace life and/or rearrange their priorities. Others drown themselves in self pity and completely let go of life.
When Gal’s mother died, I felt angry. I felt like she had stopped fighting and I was angry at her for giving up. On her funeral day, someone told me I needed to learn to respect her wish to let go. This comment really hit me hard. She had struggled with cancer for as long as I had known her. For 25 years, she had won.
On her memorial day, I quietly reminded myself how much I respected her for fighting for so long. I have learned the hard way that we cannot judge a person until we walk a mile in their shoes and no one wants to walk a mile in the shoes of someone with cancer.
Finding out you have cancer is traumatic. It shakes the very foundation of who you are. It is like walking a mile while your shoes keep getting tighter and tighter around your feet. The focus needs to be on keeping the pressure down, bit by bit.
Recently, my mother underwent radiation therapy and had my nephews around her to bring her joy. Playing with them, she seems 10 years younger. Around them, the shoes fit better, even if only for a short time.
Here is a touching video about a project that gives cancer patients a special moment of happiness, that little bit of peace to make that mile just a little bit easier to walk.
May we never walk a mile in their shoes.
Take care of yourselves,