My Cancer Story

My Cancer Story

I lost a brother to colorectal cancer at a young age

My father endured bladder cancer

I am a prostate cancer survivor—nearly 15 years cancer-free

And finally, cancer stole my mother—against her will, like a thief in the night. And I was there to witness it. She fought and fought hard (twice) and was gifted time beyond the odds and expectations.

Shortly after she was diagnosed with her second bout of breast cancer, a diagnosis which would now take her, I asked somewhat in jest whether she had been swearing. (She was notorious for cussing.) “Yes!” She answered with a bit of gleam in her eye. “I’ve been using a phrase I coined as a young girl containing the most brazen swears words I could conjure up at 8 years old: “Shit-fart-ass-bum-hole!”

During her last days, a period where she was in and out of consciousness, I visited her regularly. On one occasion, I was gently rubbing her arm and feeling tender. There was no response. Then suddenly she awakened with a start! Recognizing me, she looked earnestly in my eyes and reached for me with both arms, pulled me close to her, chest to chest, cheek to cheek, and in full consciousness whispered every expression of sweetness any son would love to hear from his mother.

She would succumb in my presence days later. Indeed, I witnessed her last breath.

In all of this, had I ever asked “Why?” or “Why me?”, I would have entirely missed the beauty of the experiences.

Magnificent gifts have followed:

  1. Hidden within life’s badness and trauma is enormous learning, refinement, and goodness.
  2. Relationships are invaluable! Their procurement and protection, paramount!
  3. There is no vista, no symphony, no honor, no achievement nor commodity which approximates the most poignant, intimate of life’s experience—no matter how difficult, no matter how tragic.

Each one of us has been impacted by the ravages of cancer, directly or indirectly. Someone once said “Cancer is the great educator.” While true, let’s join together to find a cure. I’d have enjoyed many more years with my mother, brother, and father.

For more information on cancer research and  to make a gift donation please visit Huntsman Cancer Institute’s website.