To Cancer With Love

Dear Cancer,

To be honest, this is not something I thought I’d be writing today. Or for a lot of days to come. I have thought of writing something of this kind before, and even more so in the past few months and I have put it off for quite some time now, I guess because not many know you were once part of my life and I’m afraid to open myself up to the world like this.

You came to me when I was quite young. You were pretty smart in the beginning, giving the wrong signals to the doctors. But I guess you weren’t smart enough in the end.

I was too young to know what you were, what you meant, what you could and would do to me. But I could feel it all right. All those tests, those hideously bitter medicines, those endless rides to the hospital, back home and back to the hospital again, those painfully embarrassing butt injections, laying still for hours on end just to get a picture of my brain or something, that operation I underwent to get the catheter in my arm (if I think hard, I can still remember the sights and sounds of that whole thing, the blood over my arm and chest)  and waiting in the OPD for hours and hours for a visit to the doctor. Oh, and those awful spinal injections you threw at me? In the beginning I just pretended the pain wasn’t bad, but later those injections actually didn’t feel all that bad. So, Mr. Cancer, try harder.

I think it is evident that I was too much for you, since you no longer plague my body, but I think I gained more than I lost in the time I spent with you. I couldn’t have been the man I am today, had it not been for you. I’m being totally serious right now. I’m pretty sure there’s an alternate universe somewhere out there in which you didn’t introduce yourself to me and I’m a completely different person. And that may not be in a good way. I wouldn’t have met all those nice doctors and nurses, many of which I’m still in touch with, had it not been for you. I wouldn’t have met all those nice fellow-patients at the hospital had it not been for you. It may not have been fun to stay home when others go to school and run and jump and play about, but it made me who I am. So thank you for that.

You know, my mom always says that I am a very positive person. Whenever she tells anybody about you and me, she always lays a lot of emphasis on how positive I was through it all and how it was instrumental in steering me through those times. And I am positive. I look for the positives when people think there are none. Sometimes there really may not be any realistic positives, but then optimism can’t be classified as being realistic. I believe realism may get you far, but you need some optimism to get over the line. Optimism is a human trait, but ironically, not all humans possess it. I doubt I’d have been such an unabashed optimist had it not been for you. So thank you for that.

Its been close to ten years since you first stepped into my life. The first three of those were largely spent at the hospital and at home. You were like my second home during those years. School is supposed to be a second home for kids of that age but school was relegated to a distant third or maybe even fourth for me. I can’t really say whether I regret it or not since it wasn’t my choice in the first place, but I can say that if I was given the chance to change it, I would keep things the way they are. I don’t care that I spent two to three years of my seventeen and a half year old life in a hospital. I didn’t think that what I had was a big deal then and I didn’t care about it much. Once I was told I had “a disease”, the natural reaction for me was, “Okay, well, let’s get rid of it,” and that’s what I spent the next few years of my life on. I guess that was just ’cause I was too young to know better, and a part of me knew that “what I had” wasn’t strictly normal, but I just went with it, and I can say that I wouldn’t label that part of my life as a fall in my graph, so to say. If anything, its half of my life’s highlights reel. So thank you for filling the highlights reel of a guy whose remaining life events surely pale in comparison to the memorable experiences that you’ve given me.

I don’t regret having met you, but we should probably stay out of each others’ paths for the foreseeable future.

Yours,

Jai.

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