I think most people look at cancer as some ominous thing, this impending doom that is glooming over everyone's head. For me, cancer is just a thing. I was desensitized to cancer at a really young age. That being said, cancer has grown into my family tree as just another cousin or aunt, and it has only continued to grow the older I've gotten. So much so that it is now an intertwined part of many of my families lives and identities. It's not just my family I've seen this happen with either, cancer continues to weasel its way into the lives and families of most everyone. I guess that's the only redeeming value that cancer possesses—it doesn't discriminate.
It might sound like a sad thing, saying cancer is a part of who I am, but it's not—I fully believe that everything you go through is what you become. Some things are smaller than others, I would never mention that my falling off my bike on my elementary school track is a part of who I am. Cancer, however, has consumed so much of my life. Within my immediate family, two important people in my everyday life have been diagnosed with cancer (when I say cancer, I am not including any cysts because those have been yet to be officially declared "cancer"). That being said, in my immediate family alone, 40 percent of my loved ones have had some form of cancer—almost half. How is that okay? What would life look like without cancer? Who would I be without cancer?
I can only assume that without cancer in my life, I would be so much more afraid of the world. I am an extremely anxious person, especially when it comes to diseases (mind you, I am a HUGE hypochondriac). All that aside, the older I get I realize the more scared I become that it's my turn to take the cancer torch. If not cancer, then something else equally awful. How have I been lucky enough to have not had anything found, but almost every member of my family has had cancer or a cyst become detected within the span of their lives, if not both? It's a very strange thing to feel like, at some point, it has to come for me. Cancer has been so prevalent in my life, how could I myself not end up having it?
Research from the National Cancer Institute shows that 39.6 percent of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer over the course of their lifetime. I looked into this further to find out what my chances were of being diagnosed at an older age. I did not find much, but from the little I did find, it turns out that in 2014 about 12 percent of children diagnosed with cancer do not beat it. The Institute did indicate that numbers were dropping though (based on data drawn in 2008 compared to data drawn in 2014). So, what does all this mean?
It means I am not the only one. Cancer is in so many lives of Americans everywhere. Whether you were diagnosed or not, if cancer is in your family, it has affected you in someway; it's a part of who you are and as you grow older you'll realize it's in you (even if not literally).
For people that can relate to this, I think cancer takes a toll. However, if you survive, it makes you stronger. I guess what I'm trying to say is don't let cancer be a monster, it's just another thing. Don't be afraid of cancer—kick its ass.