File under: I’m too young for this

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February 6, 2009 by 8junebugs

I would like to meet cancer in a celebrity death match. I would like to draw its tags for The Dance. I would like to send it to Gitmo and leave it there.

I was young when I lost my Pepere to cancer of the esophagus (as it was explained to me). I learned about cancer then and I realized I could lose grandparents — even parents — to it someday. To hear of Justice Ginsburg and Patrick Swayze fighting pancreatic cancer…this, my brain can manage. It’s terrible and I wish it wasn’t happening to them, but they do fall solidly in the “grown-up” category.

Because, in spite of the marriages and mortgages and babies swirling around in my life, this is where I feel like I’m still a kid. When did I reach the age at which I have friends — contemporaries — scheduling biopsies and preparing for chemo? How did I get here?

I am prepared to hear at some point that my dad, my uncle, my boyfriend’s aunt has a malignant tumor. I was not prepared to learn that a classmate from Middlebury was already a breast cancer survivor. I was not prepared to hear that my cousin, a mere 11 months younger than I, would undergo surgery ovarian cancer. I was not prepared to learn this morning that a very dear colleague, a very young colleague, has already had a lumpectomy and now faces chemo and radiation.

Of course, it doesn’t matter if I’m prepared. It’s not happening to me — I’m not the one facing chemo and radiation. All I have to do is be supportive and stay away when I have the flu. So, really, what do I have to complain about?

I guess I thought my generation would have a little more time before we hit this point. I had this conversation with the Bean when her dad was diagnosed in 2001 — back then, I thought it was grossly unfair that she had to face losing a parent before she got to plan a wedding, have a baby, etc. The order of things was all wonky, and cancer was at the heart of it then, too. (He has beat it back time and again, thank God.) Why I bought into things happening in a certain order, I don’t know — that hasn’t been the case for my own life, and trying to jam my life into a proscribed timeline has had…mixed results.

I’m going to stop thinking about the “right” order of things and how life “should” roll out for a bit and just be glad for small miracles. Miracles like early detection, talented doctors, and good health insurance.

And I think I need to get to work on a prayer shawl for my friend. Tonight.

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