I believe one day I will get cancer. I’m not as afraid as you would think.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to get cancer. I’m just not as afraid of it as some people are. I know it kills. It’s killed members of my family. On my mother’s side, it’s taken my grandfather, an aunt and two uncles. Another aunt and a cousin have already had cancer and are survivors. My mother has had cancerous cells detected twice and thanks to early intervention, is still, to our knowledge, cancer free.
My surviving uncle on my mother’s side once said something like, “If you take mother’s side, you’ll go crazy and won’t know it. If you take after father’s side, you’ll drop dead of cancer and you’ll be full of it.”
Okay, so it wasn’t exactly inspirational. But it was very refreshing for me to hear my uncle speak so bluntly.
I think people are still afraid to talk about cancer, especially any cancer involving our sex organs, secondary sex characteristics or bowels. It’s as though there’s something dirty or shameful about where cancer can invade our bodies. As one of my mum’s friends said, ‘Cancer is not a dirty word.’ Ask. Research. Talk. It’s not an un-namable disease. It has a name – Cancer. Cancer. CANCER. We have to get used to saying it, talking about it. We can’t fight what we can’t name.
So, I’m expecting cancer to come knocking on my door one day. But, while I’m expecting it, I don’t consider myself a waiting victim. I do my breast exams, I eat well, I work out, I try to keep myself healthy. I’m not a hypochondriac, but I keep tabs on how I’m feeling. If something hurts, I try to figure out why it hurts and what I can do about it. I pay attention to my body.
Most importantly, I talk to my friends and family about cancer. No one is going to slap us in public for saying it or make us put a quarter in the swear jar. When I get cancer, I vow to not be embarrassed or ashamed about it. I’m not going to whisper it and hope that no one overhears me. I’m going to keep going on walks, keep donating money, keep reading about treatments and breakthroughs, keep talking about it and keep saying the word ‘CANCER.’