A Jarring Ride Back to Reality

I have been blessed as a survivor. All the people I have met through various colorectal cancer groups are survivors, and many are what I call “thrivers.” Colorectal cancer has hit them hard, but they just keep going. The survivors I have met are just that – survivors. Most of my friends through these groups are either getting on with their life, are learning to live a new “normal” life, or are years past their diagnosis.

I can read. I know how to research, and I understand statistics, but somehow my group of friends has been able to beat the odds and prove the statistics wrong. Within the support groups I frequent, I have known of others for whom the battle has ended much differently than my own. Off the top of my head, I can immediately name at least five people who have ultimately lost the battle with this nasty disease. But naming someone and knowing someone are completely different.

Until recently, I haven’t had any personal experience with friends having a reoccurrence or losing their battle. Before this week, I could empathize with any colorectal patient or survivor out there. I have been in their shoes. I have felt those same feelings, and just the mention of certain chemo drugs still makes me sick. But I have never heard the phrases, “it’s back,” “it’s terminal,” or “there’s nothing else we can offer.”

I’ll admit that I like to wear my rose-colored glasses, but in the last two weeks the tint of those glasses has begun to wear off. Recently I heard from one of my fellow “Barbie Butts” that cancer has hit again, and not long after that shock came another. One of my friends had gone terminal. It was no longer a question of prolonging life, but rather coming up with a plan to live his remaining days in comfort, even if that meant taking an elephant’s dose of pain meds, living in and out of lucid moments, and yet trying to be “in the moment” as much as possible. I’m grateful those painful days are behind for my friend, but my heart is now scarred forever by the passing of this true warrior.

So now that my rose-colored glasses are no longer tinted, I can see this thing we call colorectal cancer for what it truly is. It is no longer just a hurdle I jumped over, a turn my life has taken, or a battle I’ve fought and won. It is now a lurking beast – always on the prowl, hiding in the darkness, and forever hurting those it meets.

Today, I wake praying for the broken hearts of those who have been left behind, and for our hearts that will never completely heal. But it is with fond, happy remembrance that I am able to smile and laugh when I think of my dear friend. Cheers to you, Bill!

~ Staci