By Emmy McKirgan
February 4th is “an international day marked to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment” Wikipedia.
According to cancer.ca, “World Cancer Day – (is) a day to come together to honour and remember everyone affected by cancer, and take action to change the future of cancer forever.”
Last year I wrote a post on the Dreaded C-Word! I wish I could write and say “they” have found a cure! That people have overcome whatever cancer assails them, the truth is, it hasn’t gotten any better. In the past year, it has come closer to my own family.
I write this with a heavy heart. My brother-in-law Kaz found out last May he has stage 4 esophageal cancer. Prognosis with treatment: one year, without less than six months. These are terrible odds!
I can’t even imagine how hard this is for my sister and nieces. My heart breaks for them. The word cancer has infiltrated their lives and changed the trajectory of their futures.
One word changed their lives forever! Being this close to the fire is complicated. I want to help. To do something – but how? What can I say or do to remove the fear, pain, and uncertainty of life? No words or actions can take the hardships this disease has brought on!
During this same period, my best friends’ dad Fernando, was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer of the liver. Their story was similar – in and out of the hospital. What started as pancreatitis turned into a mass on his pancreas that needed surgery. He started chemo in mid-October and passed away on December 6th. My heart broke for my friend and her family. I had so many great memories of her dad as I spent so much time with her family when we were young. Yet, at this stage in life, I couldn’t do anything – couldn’t make it better. I could offer words of comfort and hope, pray their pain would be lessened, and check in on them via text or even snail mail. I asked her to write a few words about her dad and their endured ordeal. She sent me a page. I get it! There are so many emotions and thoughts throughout finding out a loved one has cancer. I wanted to include it all – and since my post is already too long. I am attaching it here as a link to read her story. Again due to Covid, I could not offer the support one should give during the most challenging time.
Early in Kaz’s (my brother-in-law) diagnosis, before one of his extensive surgeries, I made him a photo album – it seemed the only thing I could do. I wanted him to see how much I loved him – how much he meant to me! Even though the words were hard to say – showing it was easier. As I put the pages together, I felt transported to the memories on the page. Each one was unique, evoking both feelings and thoughts, trying to remember the best! I was trying to keep the negative and complex emotions at bay.
The past year has been fraught with difficult choices—the fears of what things will go wrong: fevers and infections, to name a few. Symptoms and side effects seem to come one after another.
On top of this, COVID has caused so many more issues caused during this already taxing time. It is impossible to be there physically to support my family – and that is crushing!
I can only offer hope and prayers from afar. My kids were going to visit – but then the omicron wave hit, and it was no longer safe for them to do so. My sister and the girls were frightened for their dad. Understandably so! Our priority is his health! He is immunocompromised, so that cold you and I get – could turn to pneumonia for him.
The most challenging part of this journey is not being there for our family and friends during their most difficult moments. To hold a hand, offer a hug, pray, and most importantly, to be there to cry, laugh, or whatever the situation deems.
Back in September of last year, my sister sent word that I “should come to Ontario that this might be it.” My heart broke. I felt so helpless and angry! Realizing this is how it might end. He was always so strong. I thought he was invincible! He had been in my life since I was a teenager. I saw him and my sister get married have babies, and I want to see them grow old together, well older. (lol my sister is 15 years older than me)
So each holiday Kaz lives to see – we celebrate! This past Christmas was a true testament to prayer and his will to survive! Of the power of hope and love. I pray he will live much longer than the doctors expected.
It makes me realize how important life is! Everyday! Every minute we are alive – take it all in. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. It may not be cancer, it could be an accident, getting old, or some other disease, but each of us has a set time to die. So, what will you do with your life? What will your legacy be? Make yours count!
I would like you to comment below and share your triumph, loss, and heartache stories. This post is a safe place for like-minded people dealing with varying issues related to cancer to support one another. To hear that you are not alone in your experience. To offer each other hope and encouragement to go on! To keep hoping for the best and be prepared for the worst. (Scroll to the bottom to comment section)
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV
Thanks for reading!
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“Consequently, faith comes from hearing
the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”
~ Romans 10:17