I Hate You: A Young Mother's Letter To Cancer

by Gina Stout
Originally Published: 

Dear Cancer,

I hate you. I hate you for all you have done to me, for taking away my hope, for leaving me gasping for breath and heart-poundingly scared. You came after me, attacked me when I did not know you even knew my name. You did not just leave me shaking in fear but also my loved ones, who were punished in your attack as well.

I hope you die. I hope you wither up and are obliterated—never to be seen or heard from again. No one will miss you. Not a soul. No one likes you; we all want you to die. We hope for it; we pray for your death. And not just my family and friends, everyone who exists or ever has existed hates you with a passion.

We are scared of you. I used to not dare speak of you as if I did you would come after me. But it didn’t matter, you came just the same. You took an innocent hostage and tried to kill me. The scariest part is you might still. At any time, you could sneak back in, silent and swift, and finish the job you started. I have such little control over my battle with you, and although I have armed myself the best I know how, it still may not be enough to defeat you.

There are people who have devoted their lives to figuring out how to kill you, how to wipe you from this planet, never to be heard from again. There are so many more who have died from you, who battled you way longer, harder and more relentlessly than I. There are many more who survived you, thanks to those who are trying their best to eradicate you.

You forced me to imagine a world without me. A world where my daughters do not have a mother to tuck them in at night, to kiss their boo-boos and let them know it will be OK. A world where my husband lies alone in our bed at night, missing me. And worse, you forced me to imagine a world where I am replaced, where another woman is hugging my girls, teaching them how to put on makeup, shopping for prom dresses, dancing with my husband at our daughter’s weddings.

If you do win, the world will go on without me. My children will smile again, and I pray, my husband would find love again. But I pray hardest that you will go away.

I continue to pray that you will leave me alone. But it feels like as soon as I begin to be comfortable again, as soon as I only think about the scars you left once or twice a day, you creep back in. You continue to attack relentlessly, unconsciously, with no remorse or regret. Even though you are gone (I hope) from me, you left your mark so deep that it forever changed me.

I hate you so much that I cut out parts of myself in hopes to keep you away, in hopes that the blood and tears and pain would have been so great that you would never return. I poisoned myself. Days on end, I could barely walk 10 feet to the bathroom without having to lie down after because of you. I lay in my bed at times wondering if I could go on or if I should just give up. You robbed me of six months of my life and continue still to take away from me, even if it is just seconds at a time.

It has been two years since I found out I had breast cancer, a little over 700 days since I lay in excruciating pain from the instrument scooping out bits and pieces of flesh over and over. I cut off my breast, had lymph nodes removed from my arm, had a port placed in my chest to deliver chemotherapy directly to my heart for it to pump throughout my entire body. I was drugged, poisoned, cut and sewn back up.

My hair fell out, my energy drained, and yet I still smiled. I still laughed and loved and lived despite the torture I was going through. I went into battle mode, and it was only when it was done, when my last treatment of chemo finished coursing through my veins that I screamed and kicked and gave in to the fear. For months, I kept a mask on, assuring everyone I was OK, that I would be OK. Only the ones closest to me, the ones the most affected, saw the real me.

Today I live my life as if it never happened, from the surface everything looks the same, and many have forgotten the battle I recently fought. My daughters still have their mother, my parents still have their daughter, and my husband still has his wife. But little moments are no longer lost on me.

I cried when my oldest daughter got her ears pierced the day before her 5th birthday because I was not sure I would see it happen. I was bursting with joy when she graduated kindergarten because it was a graduation I attended. I am more conscious about spending time with them, and I feel more kindness and compassion than before. I hug harder and longer and say I love you more often.

So as much as I hate you, cancer, I also thank you. Because of your unwelcome presence in my life, I now realize how fleeting this life is, how it is best to see the good and forget the bad. How it is better to be kind, patient and caring regardless of the situation.

No one lives on earth forever, and no one knows when their time is up. One day, we will all just be memories. I just hope the ones of me are good ones and that you are not a part of them.

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