There are special moments that come along ever so rarely, where the only reaction I can muster is : wow.
Last Saturday was one of those moments. A friend of ours, a brilliant writer, had finally succumbed to cancer after a brave 10 year battle. Her funeral was a testament to her courage, her love for others and her wordsmith ability.
When her eldest son stepped on the stage to deliver his eulogy, I did not expect what came out of his mouth. He painted a moving, heart-wrenching portrait of his relationship with his mother, her life and his feelings through the long storm. He wrote and delivered in a sublime way what I thought indescribable.
And to say that it hit home is a gross understatement.
I give you Phil Cotnoir's eulogy. Thank you Phil for making me feel your feelings, for accepting the doubt, for falling on your faith, for letting me peer into your mind and for bringing me along on your journey.
You are beyond talented, like your mother. Again: Wow.
It seems to be all around me. I don't know if it's because I am getting older and more aware, or if it's because there are more cases of it, or that I've just been 'unlucky' to have had more contact with it recently.
My wife had it two years ago and is in remission. My mom just got operated and had it taken out. My friend's mom just passed away because of it. The couple who my kids adopted as their third set of grandparents both got diagnosed with it. A close friend of my father (and the man who married my wife and I) will soon lose his wife to it.
It is an insidously spreading, often-don't know-you-have-it-until-it's-too-late, never-sure-if-it's-gone, playing-the-odds disease.
And the more I ponder on cancer and its treatement, the more I see it as a paradox. Here's how:
- It is the only illness that the treatment (chemo) is actually worse than the disease itself
- It is really just too much of a good thing (cells proliferate too much)
- It is the treatment's goal to kill everything good to make sure it gets all the bad
- Everybody has varying degrees of it
- When one has it, it seems everyone has a thought about what we should do, and most have no idea what they are talking about
- Scanning for it too often may actually provoke it
- Once you're done the treatment, there is a sword of Damocles for years hanging over one's head
- We know next-to-nothing about it. We are still learning, it's not an exact science, and it keeps us humble
There is, however, something beautiful I have discovered when you are a part of those affected by it. When you talk to patients and survivors, to the cancer community, there are no pretentions, no masks, no hypocrisy. What you see truly is what you get. I desperately wish is that we could extend this openness and honesty to everyone without the necessity of going through a horrible cancer.
xkcd brilliantly put his own learnings on cancer in the cartoon below or here.
Everything you never wanted to know about the author is on this web site : www.jeanfahmy.com