A neighbour has died of cancer. She wasn’t young but that’s not the point. Cancer sucks. It kills people. I’m fed up of seeing the devastation it causes. I hate it.
Mum came round and we had a jolly chat about cancer. She announced that if she gets it she won’t be wanting treatment or certainly nothing invasive. She explains that while she feels great right now, the body starts to break down as we get older and that makes it easier to let go.
I know what she means. When we’re young it feels like we have all the time in the world – even that there’s too much of it. Illness, aches and pains and weakness are a reminder of our frailness, the fragility of even the strongest life. They’re a blessing because they remind us of our mortality, give us an opportunity to think about our need of God. For Christians it also makes it easier to contemplate death when we’re uncomfortable in this life – otherwise we have a tendency to cling to what we know.
Husband is a bit shocked when I tell him. I explain that the way Mum and I see it, life is like a see saw: when we’re young and healthy we tend to cling to life but as age and illness come it’s natural to look past that, to a future where we’ll have no pain or fatigue and will be reunited with loved ones. I told him that if it weren’t for him and a feeling that I have things I should do (not a bucket list but things I should do, people I can help, charities I can support – there are things that God wants us to do), I’d be ready to go! He was surprised but seemed to take it on board.
He’s looking and feeling well. You’d never think he had cancer to look at him. Even we almost forget … almost … I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.
The latest blood test shows the red cells are up to 139, platelets are down to 355 but Doc concludes, “The bloods are very good”.
So I was surprised when husband turned to me and said “I worry about you and yet I don’t because I know you’ll manage perfectly well when I die.” He feels fairly hopeful, that even if the blood counts start to drop soon (which would be desperately disappointing at this stage), he should have a couple of years before he needs treatment again, assuming that the decline is as gradual as it was last time. I’ve had similar thoughts. It sucks to have these conversations but I know that when I thought I had cancer that I needed the family to acknowledge the likely reality.
It is so good to see husband play fighting with the dog again. His remission is quietly pretty miraculous – it’s far better than we’d hoped in terms of his quality of life. After the splenectomy there was always the fear that the operation hadn’t worked, that the blood numbers weren’t improving. For now at least we have hope. He is feeling so very much better than he was 6 months ago.