A Brief Word To You Cancer Survivors

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 13.266% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

A friend of mine got some wonderful news the other day: her cancer is in remission.
And she felt a terrible guilt.
Because she is a friend of mine, she knows all about Rebecca, and the brain cancer that took her life on her sixth birthday, and she had the reaction of, “Why did I live when that beautiful little girl didn’t?” And perhaps that reaction is natural, and human – survivor’s guilt is a very real thing – but I said something to her, and I want to say it to all of you:
I am thrilled that you’re alive.
I want you healthy.
I want no one on this Earth to die of cancer, ever again.  Not a little girl, not an old man, not a middle-aged genderqueer, nobody.
That won’t happen in my lifetime, sadly – “cancer” is an umbrella name for a thousand different different kinds of diseases, and we could completely cure breast cancer and still have the astrocytoma that ravaged Rebecca’s brain running rampant – but I am never going to be angry when someone else lives.  I was not in the least comforted by thinking, “Well, other children went through this.”  I would have been far more comforted by the knowledge that this was a unique situation, that in all the billions of humans who lived we were the only ones who were watching a child die of a disease we could not cure, and that all the other families were living peacefully and thriving.
If you live, it is a triumph to me.  It’s a middle finger thrust into the face of a cold biological process that, God willing, one day science will manage to stop.  And in your case, it looks like science did stop it, and good.
I speak for no one else, of course.  I don’t know how my wife feels, I don’t know how the Meyers feel, I don’t know what’s normal.  But if you’ve had some life-threatening disease and you made it when Rebecca didn’t, I will clap my hands and sing your joy and praise whatever powers that be that you will continue to be ambulatory.
I’m thankful you’re here.  Live long.  Live well.  Live beautifully.

1 Comment

  1. Lyn Belzer-Tonnessen
    Sep 12, 2014

    Gorgeously put.

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