By Rebecca Ruehl
Washington County Relay For Life
I’m over cancer.
I’m over prayer requests. I’m over obituaries. I’m over seeing people at Wal-Mart without hair. I’m over hearing that so-and-so has cancer.
I’m fairly certain we’ve all had our own cancer scares – whether it’s us or a loved one. Some of them have thankfully been negative, some have unfortunately resulted in an actual diagnosis. I’ve had bad test results with shadows and lesions and “please follow up with liver mass protocol.” I’ve received a phone call telling me my husband had the cancer with the highest mortality rate but that he was at the best hospital with the best doctors – which thankfully proved untrue. I’ve had four doctors come into an exam room and tell me my daughter had leukemia, talking to me and through me while I sat dazed, twisting her pony tail and being asked by my beautiful, sweet kindergartner why I was crying and why her dad looked like he was going to throw up.
I’ve seen things at the Hale Irwin Cancer Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital that will make you crap your pants, I kid you not. I’ve seen kids at clinic who were the same children on Facebook prayer pages. Some of these medical “celebrities” survived, others did not. I’ve seen babies in car seats with IV poles that had chemo hanging from them – the same chemo that was stamped with the “poison” logo. I’ve slept at the Ronald McDonald House – which is beautiful but filled with sick kids and anguished, sleep-deprived parents. I’ve seen a teenager rip her father to shreds over his bad wheelchair driving and when he backed her into the elevator, taking better care this time not to jar her still-open cancer wound (it was u.g.l.y. pins and gauze and all kinds of ‘don’t look’ markings”), he was mouthing “I’M SO SORRY” to me and my mom which made us absolutely bust up laughing hysterically because the entire situation was just so completely messed up. I’ve seen the faces of parents after they’ve been told there is nothing more they can do – and you never forget that. Ever.
I wish I could share ALL of the things I’ve seen so that you never forget what it is for someone going through cancer. It’s not easy, it’s not a walk in the park. It’s fear, and anger, and stress, and chaos, and intense emotions – every day, every SINGLE day for weeks, months, years. Everything reminds you that you or your loved one is sick. Your life is going down the drain while the rest of the world just goes on seemingly unaware of your situation.
So what can we do? What should we do? We should call our legislators each and every day and make sure they know that YOU think cancer should be their #1 priority because it’s going to take a lot of money to beat cancer. You should put all of your change into the cancer can at the gas station. You should go online www.acs.org and give $50 because, thank you God, you are healthy and so is everyone in your family. And you should make plans to join with the hundreds of thousands of other people who walk at their local Relay for Life (May 7 NCHS track) so we can finally put an end to cancer once and for all.