One of my earliest memories of cancer is seeing a movie on television when I was a kid – I think it was “Stolen Hours” with Susan Hayward – in which a not-so-nice lady was humbled and humanized by it, and finally succumbed to it. When the movie’s characters talked about a brain tumor, I thought they were saying “brain doomer.” Back then, it might as well have been.
My other memory is of visiting a sweet elderly widow from church, bedfast at home from an untreatable cancer. Her name was Anna Clancy, and like many other residents of the area near my church in the Fountain Square area of Indianapolis, she was originally from Germany and had the accent to prove it. She knew she would never return there, but loved to see and share with us color slides from her homeland in her GAF stereo viewer. On one visit, she gave me the chocolate-brown plastic viewer and all the gorgeous slides; it was an early version of the View-Master. For a child like me with poor distance vision and no ability to fuse the images from my two eyes more than a few feet away, the device was pure magic. It turned out to be our last visit. I think she knew it would be.
I hate cancer.
It has taken shots at my maternal grandmother, my mom, my older sister and even me. It has threatened and taken relatives, friends, colleagues anf neighbors.
There’s nothing fair about cancer. I survived a pretty easily survivable type of it in my early twenties, but it took away my ability to father children. Sure, we’ve been able to adopt the two greatest kids in the whole world. But no thanks to cancer.
Cancer doesn’t care whether you are young or old, male or female, wealthy or poor, healthy or infirm, gay or straight, black or white or somewhere in between. It is very democratic. But it is not fair.
Now cancer is trying to kill my sweet wife Angi.
She is battling it with all her might, while it slowly saps every ounce of strength she has. I hate that she has to.
I hate that it sneaked up on her like a filthy thief. Pancreatic cancer has no outstanding symptoms. It’s almost always diagnosed too late.
I hate what it is doing to her; torturing her, starving her, drying her out, weakening her.
I hate what it is taking away from her: food and water, strength, comfort, health, pleasure, hair, dignity.
Yet no matter what cancer takes, it does not take away her patience, her persistence, her cheer, her love, her faith.
I hate what it is giving her: wracking pain, nausea, dry heaves, insomnia.
I hate that I try to help and there is not really one thing I can do to make life better for her, and I am still worn out at the end of the day.
I hate what cancer is doing to my family.
I hate having to sell our house because I’m not working fulltime and wouldn’t be able to make payments on it nor utilities for it if it fell to me.
I hate the prospect of having to move and not knowing when or where.
I hate what this cancer is doing to my kids, to Gran, to extended family and dear friends and church siblings.
I especially hate the stress and uncertainty this is all putting on my daughter, about to turn 17 and fighting her own brave battles.
I hate cancer, the slow torturing killer of loved and loving people. I hate cancer because it is evil. I hate cancer because it is of the accuser.
Cancer lies. And we know who the father of lies is.
Cancer murders. And we know who was a murderer from the beginning.
It doesn’t help to hate cancer. Just hating it doesn’t help at all.
But cancer isn’t a person. I don’t get any picture from scripture that there’s anything wrong with hating an evil thing. When I think about cancer, I can’t help but hate it.
I hate it.