Cancer Waste Land

Oh no, not again! I’m feeling somewhat punch drunk. It’s this malevolent Cancer thing which just 2 days ago descended yet another friend’s life into a living nightmare, and so the battle begins.  6 weeks ago, 3 months ago, a year ago, yet another diagnosis.  The dying of those close like my brother, a beloved childhood friend; the list goes on and on and on… This insidious, relentless persecutor seems to be taunting us and actually renders me terrified that I may be next. Makes me think I should fit in as much champagne and sun as I can in case that dreaded day comes when I can’t face it anymore – perish the thought!

Family embracing

The thing is, it’s not just the individual who gets afflicted by this malicious illness, it’s the whole family. I am noticing how difficult it is for those closely affected, as well-meaning people around them just don’t always have the energy to offer the on-going and necessary support for the long haul. Someone remarked to me that she was in a desperate state about her sister, but that most friends didn’t seem to be stepping up to support her. Sadly I get that, as I imagine many are so tired and world-weary from all their own pressures that they don’t have the energy when it is not their direct friend who is affected. Jim Carrey once remarked that “if we all acted the way we felt, four out of eight people at a dinner table would be sitting there sobbing.”

Still, I continue to be amazed and heartened at people’s kindliness, care and resilience. Everywhere there are Fun Runs, McMillan coffee mornings, fundraisers for Cancer Research and the like. A community sharing their grief but also their triumphs, fostering a unity that inspires and refuses to let hope be extinguished, with everyone just doing the best that they can. Someone dear, who is fighting her illness with such grace and spirit that I am constantly moved by her, describes those around her as ‘My Army of Angels’. I would hazard a guess that like attracts like, but she epitomises how we can all make it through another day if we reach out to each other, as “we are each of us angels with just one wing, and we can fly only by embracing one another (Rila Lenska).”


Have you or a loved one recently been diagnosed with cancer?  These organizations offer guidance and support:

  1. MacMillan Cancer Support: Provide practical, medical and financial support and push for better cancer care.
  2. Cancer Research UK: Long term vision is to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.  Contributed to the development of Tamoxifen and Herceptin, which have saved the lives of thousands of women with breast cancer.
  3. Marie Curie Cancer Care: UK charity dedicated to the care of people with terminal illnesses.