Cancer is just the worst

Cancer sucks. 

It seems that, lately, every time I turn around, someone I know is fighting cancer. It’s to the point that I don’t want to turn around anymore.

Breast cancer. Brain cancer. Stomach cancer. Prostate cancer. Colon cancer. Pancreatic cancer. Blood cancer. Skin cancer. Yesterday, I even heard someone talking about cancer of the eye.

 I can’t think of a family who hasn’t been stricken with some strain of this awful disease. Our parents raised eight children and we’re all still around, which is a bit astonishing when you realize six of them are in their 70s. Some of my siblings have beaten cancer of some sort, and our sister-in-law continues to battle cancer 20-plus years after being diagnosed. (She’s a rock star!) I hope I can keep dodging that Big C bullet, but I know the odds aren’t in my favor.

It’s getting so weird that I find myself hesitating to congratulate friends who have lost weight or changed their hairstyles, not quite sure whether the “new look” is intentional or the result of cancer and/or its awful treatments.

Yes, I realize I sound like that old man down the block wondering what happened to his “good ol’ days.” He will tell you ALL about how great life was when he was growing up. “Things were different then,” he bellows, sounding in my mind like Edward G. Robinson, of course. “That’s when men were men and women were women, when kids played baseball at the park all day, when a cup of coffee cost a nickel, when people looked each other in the eye when they spoke.”

This was before color and remote controls were introduced to television viewers. Hell, it was before television. Many of the modern conveniences we enjoy today (air conditioning, cell phones, the internet, those pesky social media sites) weren’t even pipe dreams in this man’s utopia, and he somewhat conveniently glosses over things like lead paint, asbestos or the brutal bigotry so many people in our society encountered during his “hey days.” I wish that old man down the block would put aside the selective memory and understand his life might not have been that much better after all.

Cancer also existed then, of course, and likely will exist long after you and I have departed this world. Science and medicine have come light years in recent decades and will continue to invent new ways to thrive. But while many diseases have been eradicated, cancer seems to be everywhere and impacting more and more parts of the body. And more and more of my compatriots and family members.

I went to an event a few weeks ago to raise funds for two friends with Stage 4 cancer. The evening was bittersweet at best; yes, we had some laughs and a lot of money was raised, but both individuals will be fortunate to see Christmas. I can’t imagine what they and their loved ones endure daily.

I worry about whether the Cubs’ bullpen will ever show up, whether Notre Dame will win a national championship for the first time in 36 years or whether I’ll ever break 90 on a golf course that doesn’t require me to putt around a hippo, a mangled building or a waterfall. In short, I worry about stupid things. Those afflicted with cancer worry about reality.    

I truly wish that we could stop worrying about politically-charged buzzwords like “cancel culture” and worry more about what is rapidly becoming “cancer culture.” This plague continues to invade our society and touch — or destroy — so many lives. Give your family and friends a call. Stop by to say hello. Give them a hug and tell them you love them. You just never know…

 Cancer. Just. Plain. Sucks.