Dear adult cancer survivors and patients,
I can feel you 25 feet away. Those of you currently in treatment especially, but I feel you too survivors. I know you now run again and don’t think I see you as I walk, but I do. I see your mark of cancer. I don’t need you to tell me. I know.
I know by how you look at him.
You can’t take your eyes off of him. You watch him like your own. You don’t even know you are staring. Please don’t worry, it’s not a creepy stare nor does it make me uncomfortable. It is a loving and intense stare. I know better than to block your view or interrupt. You immediately love him. You feel in some ways that you know him better than me. That could be true. You would know better than me.
I wish I could talk to you stranger, but I know it’s your time and who am I to pry. Who am I to call out your trauma. I let you gaze. Your time for perspective, but I often fear that you walk away with the wrong narrative. I feel the tears when we walk away. I see you watch him until he is a speck. But you need to understand something.
He does not understand like you.
I know you are thinking how can a child go through this? How? When you struggle daily? I know you are wondering how a child withstands the radiation, the scans, the just feeling of “sick.” How is that possible?!
I know we both acknowledge that it shouldn’t be. That no child should go through something like this, but it is possible and it is also a possible that is easier than yours.
Jacob doesn’t understand nor has ever heard of cancer before we told him he had it. The label is the same as “flu” to him. His response was “cancer rhymes with answer.” I doubt when you heard your news, such a rhyme would enter your head. He knows he is sick and spends his days in hospitals, but does not have the tales you have in your head. Nor does he have your responsibilities. He doesn’t look in the mirror and wonder what the days will be like for his children without a father. Wonder how his wife will carry on? He doesn’t even look in the mirror and care about being bald. Or at least I can’t tell if he does. Again probably you know better. I just bear witness.
It is true that he spends his time doing unfortunate things, but he also ends those moments by jumping onto his ipad and playing a game. He does not think nor anticipate the buffet of “sides.” He does not understands what just went into his body.
So look, stare, love. Do it all.
But please know that he has a gift that I wish I could give to you. That he does not know fear like you. He does not understand the enemy. He can’t fathom an enemy that is part of his own body. That he fights everday because he doesn’t know another way. He just wants to play.
He wants to play with you. Maybe that is what you need too? But I get it. You don’t know what to say. How could you even play? So have your moment, but know he is strong in a way you cant imagine.