My Big Fat Cancer Adventure began two years ago, when I really did get Cancer for Christmas. But I'm not seeing that shimmer (or is it glimmer?) of warm and fuzzy light at the end of the proverbial cancer tunnel. Every time I round a bend on The Big C Highway, there's a new roadblock in my way, another hurdle to climb over, another hoop to jump through. It is never ending and, as the great Gilda Radner's Roseanne Roseannadanna character famously quipped, "It's always something."
Is cancer a wakeup call? Yup. Like stepping into the path of an express train could be considered an eye-opening event, cancer stops us smack in our tracks. Many of us live to tell the tale; many of us do not. All of us are maimed. But am I thankful for the train that is trying to run me over? Nope.
Let's try a different analogy: Does the deer being hunted in the forest think the rifle is a gift? Nope.
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I'm here to tell you that getting diagnosed with cancer is akin to having crosshairs tattooed on your back. You will forever be a target of The Big C. And like the deer, you will try very, very hard to outrun this enemy. You'll attack it with your arsenal of surgery and chemicals and radiation and years of hormone-surpressing pills. You'll fill an emotional moat with your tears. You'll find out all too quickly who your real friends are — and you will take this realization like a bullet to the heart. You'll need a nap every day and be unable to fend off your fears in the darkness of night. You'll experience "scanxiety" any time you have to take any kind of medical test. You'll develop PTSD whenever you walk into a doctor's office (especially at a cancer center) or when you notice a new ache or pain. Of course you'll become an expert on nutrition and additives and the many, many things that are harmful in our environment and you'll try to live a cleaner life. (Good luck with that.) You'll exercise less and eat more. (And then you will exercise more and eat less.) You'll pine for the days when you could remember details quickly, concentrate easily, and be motivated in general. You'll curse the necessity of being your own health advocate 24/7, and appreciate your hands-on WedMD degree. You'll wonder how the hell you ever had time to do anything besides go to the doctor and monitor your own health.
Because in the end, it all comes down to this: Cancer is hiding like a hunter in a blind deep within the woods, holding a loaded rifle with its sights set on you and me.
And that ain't no gift.