Sunday, August 15, 2010

Staring Cancer in the face

My internship deals with cancer. I knew it was going to be hard when I first started, but it never really hit me until this weekend.

I met a girl who is Andrews age, 27 and she is fighting a very hard battle with cancer right now. She has been for five years. I was expecting her to be frail and thin, bald and weak and so many things you think of when someone says, "they are not good." But she was the opposite (mostly) of what I'd assumed. I felt a kinship with her because she too was a Public Relations major and loves to watch sports. She looked tired but her spirits were amazing, she wasn't bald and she wasn't frail. As we talked about her life, her diagnosis and her love for her family. In the love seat next to her sat her mom and dad who looked weather-worn, but appreciative that we were there to listen to their daughters story.

As we talked, I couldn't look over at her mom who's face was wet with tears and her dad who would occasionally start crying as well. I knew before we met her that she was trying one of the "last resort" treatments and looking into clinical trials all over the country. I didn't know she had cancer when she was 14 or that she was alone when she got her second cancer diagnosis at age 22. All I kept thinking was that could be me, I could be her, sitting there telling my story about cancer and watching my life slowly pass before me. I didn't want to cry, I didn't want to think about the fact that this could be the only time I may ever meet this amazing girl.

On the ride home we talked about her chances to go on for another year or even six months and about her interview. "Make sure you save the recording of her interview, I am sure that her parents would like to have that when she is gone." I think just hearing someone say that was the worst part (although amazing that they would think to do that for her family).

I'm not sure that any of us on a daily basis look at our life and think about how precious it is or how one day could change the entire path of your life. I think I didn't mention in my previous post that what I've experienced has made me appreciate my life so much more. I think we all need to take a moment to just breathe in our life and remember it could change in an instant.


Lesley said...

It's therapeutic for a cancer patient to be able to talk about their cancer experience, and what they've "walked" through - even if they're still fighting. I had a reporter come to my house to do a bit for the national news when I was going through chemo. And even though they only used bits and pieces of my interview, they were kind enough to just give me the floor and let me talk.

Kudos for lending an ear!

Steph @ Professors_Wife said...

very nice post - i can't imagine how tough that must have been. You're a great person for listening! My mother in law is in remission following a short treatment period with early stage breast cancer, but there's always that fear - it's something that really changed our family's perspective on life. It really is precious, and i definitely try to enjoy each day as much as possible :)