The sun rises, leaves blow in the breeze, cars zip down your local highway. It’s just another day. We drive to work, go to school, maybe see the sun set over our collective horizons as we head back home into evening.
Our bodies have parts. We have arms, legs, eyes, ears, and brains. Our parts have parts. At the lowest level, we are all made up of cells. Cells that move around our body, in streams of blood, our life force. Cells that send electrical impulses from our brain, cells that carry water, and do a host of other things. Cells divide. They grow inside of us, nourished by our food, our water, our blood. They multiply. At the heart of it, when you get down to the basics, every living human being is a great big bag of cells-a portable mobile housing unit for molecular activities.
Sometimes, for whatever reason, cells divide too fast. We end up with too many cells in one place. This is called a tumor. This is called cancer. It sounds very easy, very cut and dry, actually, to put it this way. Flour, water, eggs, bread…rock, paper, scissors.
You sit in a doctor’s office and prey and hope and dream and curse. Your thoughts race. What if it’s me? What if it’s malignant? What if it spreads? Will I die? Where will I go? What am I doing here? Why me? Even if you’re otherwise healthy, you wonder, will he find something? Maybe that was more than the flu I had last month?
Doctors give it fancy names, names like carcinoma and neoplasia but, at the heart of it, at it’s very core, nobody knows why those cells divide the way they do. Nobody knows what causes it and nobody easily accepts the fact that it’s there.
Nobody wants cancer. You don’t see people begging for it in the streets or walking into a shopping mall the day after Christmas saying, “my uncle got me this sweater but I really wanted some cancer instead. May I exchange it, please?” No, cancer ranks right up there, on the human toxic and nuisance scale, alongside the likes of flood, famine, pestilence, and starvation, with the things we dread. The things we fear. The stuff born of nightmares really.
Sure, we do what we can, as hapless humans, to stop it. But, at it’s very core, all we really have is hope. Hope that the sun will come up tomorrow, hope that the leaves will still blow in the breeze, hope that our cars will start and be one of those zipping down that merry freeway of life. Hope that our doctors won’t tell us we have some “carcinoma” and this, in turn, means we have months, not years or decades to live. Part of being human is accepting the fact that we sit and hope that our cells won’t start dividing for whatever reason cells choose to do that.
Cancer is about cells, yes, but humans with cancer are all about hope. Who are we really to take that away?
Until next time…