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Friday, January 27, 2017

Cancer, the Pale Rider.

"The dark hand will call you,
From out of nowhere it seems
The black cloud will bust apart
Shattering your dreams."*

I have a cousin, an absolutely delightful person, one of the sweetest people. If you ever met her you are lucky. She is losing a terrible, endless battle with cancer. May have already lost. We have drifted apart over the years, but, her smile, and kindness are unforgettable.

Her toughness is undeniable. She has battled bravely. For years, it seems, she has fought the most pervasive, terrible scourge unkind nature has delivered. She told people that she could only work three days, and she said it apologetically. She seemed to feel she was letting people down. She had cancer, and was worried she was not doing enough! Her bravery and strength are a monument to all of humanity.

Think, for a minute, if you are lucky enough to have never faced that demon (and those of us who
have not, are the lucky ones) what that diagnosis must be like. For just one minute put yourself into the seat across from the doctor sentencing an innocent soul to that torture. "You have cancer. Even if it isn't lethal the next few months are going to be hell. And even when we think you have won, you may have lost, this may never end." Think for a minute the terror, and gloom, and pessimism that would invoke. But, do yourself a favor and don't think about it too long.

Thinking, briefly, about the people I know personally, who have been through it, the numbers are staggering, and I hardly know anyone. My cousin, her mother, my mother, my brother-in-law, the CFO of a small company where I worked for a short time, my uncle, another cousin, and his sister, whose cancer moved so quickly and completely the fight was over before it really started, my wife' boss's wife. And this list is not complete, by any means, and I avoid sick people because I am a coward. Of course, there is no way of knowing how many people who have faced this and just did not want to talk about it.

According to Medical News Today, 1 in 2 people will develop cancer. Further, according to the American Cancer Society 1 in 4 men, and 1 in 5 women will die from cancer. Horrifying numbers, mind numbing numbers, incomprehensible numbers, but only numbers. Think of the people you know, think of the nicest among them, think of their smiles. Cancer doesn't care, it will take them just the same.

Really, our only recourse is to try to live a healthy life, take care of ourselves, donate to our favorite charities, try to make a difference any way possible. And whatever else you do, be nice to people, they might be next. And that is an awful thought.

Graham Parker, Fear Not