Saturday, February 28, 2015

February 28, 2015 — Dear Cancer, I Hate You

“Dear cancer, I hate you.” Those words that begin the personal essay are jarring. They’re written by a young woman named Jenna Rose Lowthert, in an essay published in our local newspaper, in memory of her mother, Gina.

Gina died of cancer.

Yes, cancer is something we come to hate. But — as in the odd occurrence of the word “dear” in this letter’s opening — there’s also a macabre intimacy to it.

We live with cancer — both those of us who are actively being treated, and those of us in remission. We hate it, yes. But it’s also become part of our lives.

It’s part of us. A symptom of our fallen condition on this earth, perhaps. A dark mystery. The intimate companion we never invited into our lives.

Here’s some of what Jenna wrote (click on the link above to read the whole article):

Dear cancer,

I hate you.

You’re terrible.

You are the true definition of a heart breaker.

You single-handedly ruined my entire life in the matter of 10 short months.

You took away my best friend, the only person in this world who will ever love me unconditionally.

You took away my mother — and you took her in the most horrible way possible. You stopped her heart from beating at the young age of 48....

Yet, as Jenna has evidently discovered, cancer is also a teacher, although a harsh one:

The same thing that drives me to live after this loss is the same reason I hate you.

But cancer, you did not win the day my mother gained her angel wings.

You did not beat her. She beat you, as she left this world with her love, her hope, her strength, her bravery and her dignity, surrounded by the people who she loved the most.

You may have destroyed a lot, but you have, in turn, taught me lessons I never thought I would learn by age 25. You showed me just how short and precious life truly is. You showed me that every day is a gift and that I should never take anything or anybody for granted. You have forced me to recognize a strength within myself that I never knew existed.

Cancer, although I hate you with all of my heart, you have brought out the woman in me that my mother always hoped I would be....

And that is why you did not win.

Cancer is our teacher, but it is also our adversary. In contending with this challenge, we grow stronger. And better.

Who’s to say if this is the best way for us to grow? Who’s to say if God could have accomplished the same purpose in some way that’s easier, less painful?

From our limited vantage-point, we can never say for sure. But we can strive to live with cancer. We can strive to do it with courage, as Jenna and her mother have.

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