Cancer Close To Home

Thursday, October 25, 2012 Stef dela Cruz 0 Comments

Seven hours from now, my cousin will undergo surgery for breast cancer. Seven hours from now, she will start her battle against cancer, the one thing she never expected to have.

Many of us don’t really believe cancer will come knocking on our doors, including me. I knew cancer was going around, taking its time, spreading itself effortlessly despite the fact that it’s non-communicable. It may not be spread from person to person, but cancer is something that becomes more common among people who observe a certain lifestyle. It is what I prefer to call “socially contagious”.

Cancer Hits Close To Home

But I digress. I tend to do that lately, given how cancer has once again made a foothold in my family. When my cousin called me a few days ago asking for help, it all seemed to surreal. My cousin and I would laugh, catch up, share secrets. Like cancer wasn’t there.

You see, it will feel like just another tummy ache. It’s not “CANCER” when a loved one has it. It’s just some temporary tumor that will go away, or so you hope. Hey, there’s surgery and chemotherapy, so why worry, right?

Battle Against Cancer

And yet I caught myself saying a prayer of gratitude. Before I even realized it, I was thankful… thankful it didn’t happen to me. It was unspeakably selfish of me. I felt guilty.

It could have been me. For all I know, cancer might have missed its aim, mistaking my cousin for me. A little more to the left and it could have hit me. Sadly, it did hit someone: my cousin.

She is brave. She will get through the psychological ordeal. She is an emotional survivor. But cancer is unpredictable. Will it leave once the tumor has been surgically removed? Will it be exorcised once chemotherapy drugs have gone through my cousin’s veins? Or is it like a steadfast demon who will possess her until death?

I dread the conclusion, but I’m hopeful. It does not feel like cancer at all. Denial runs deep – and I wonder how my cousin will manage once she wakes up with half her chest missing.

Is Cancer In Your Family And You Don’t Know It?

Look around. Cancer has taken someone around you, someone you know. It’s lurking, waiting for its next victim. Try your best to outsmart it if you can. Live healthy. Stop smoking. Get checked. Tell your friends. Tell the people you love. Raise awareness. Fight the battle now while you still have a choice – don’t wait for things to get ugly.

Pray for my cousin. And pray for your family. The fight against cancer is not one of passivity. It will not leave your family alone simply because you ignore it. Acknowledge that it exists – and make sure you spot it when it grows its roots. Never, ever forget that cancer wins when you forget it.

Stef dela CruzAbout the blogger
Stef dela Cruz is a vegan doctor and writer. She received the 2013 Award for Health Media from the Department of Health. She is the editor of The Manila Bulletin's Animal Scene Magazine. Get in touch if you want to invite her as a speaker!