A Mother and her Two Daughters

26 August 2010

Cancer Sucks

While I have spent this week getting ready for tomorrow’s surgery, I have also spent the week hearing about and worrying about more friends who have been hit by this dreadful disease called Cancer. 

My friend Johnson was sent home by the Mayo Clinic, was told that they could not operate on his bile duct cancer.  Well, fortunately the miracle workers at UAMS have told him that YES, surgery can be done.  The ups and downs of cancer are so great, but this is the second story I’ve heard in only a few months where Mayo has sent an Arkansan home without hope, and where UAMS has said, “Let us cure you.”  We are extraordinarily blessed to have the Rockefeller Institute right here at home. 

Last night I learned that the ugly breast cancer has struck again.  I ran into a dear friend from West Memphis whose daughter will have breast cancer surgery next week.  I will keep her in my prayers and hope for a positive diagnosis.  This is yet another family of friends who could be looking down the long road of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and much more.  There can be a cure for cancer, but it is such a tough journey with no assurances either. 

I say no assurances because of my friend Pam, a long ago friend from my teenage days.  Pam went on to marry and have her own beautiful family, including her son Josh.  At the young age of 17, Josh was diagnosed with testicular cancer, the same cancer that Lance Armstrong has battled.  After his surgery and chemotherapy treatments, Josh was pronounced “cancer free.”  

The unfortunate truth for all of us left hanging with a cancer diagnosis - it is not possible to guarantee that a person who has completed cancer treatment will never have their cancer come back. Even though the oncologist may tell you that your cancer is gone, the fact remains that there is always a chance that some cancer cells are left in your body and survived, even though they cannot be seen or found with any test used today. Over time, these cells can begin to grow and cause the cancer to recur.  In Josh’s case, nine years later, cancer has returned with a vengeance. It has metastasized to his lymph nodes, lungs and liver, and he has only been given a few months to live.  The only thing that we can wish for Josh is courage, peace of mind, and the ability to live out his remaining days surrounded with a great sense of love.

But Josh will not be the loser.  In the end, cancer cannot follow him beyond the grave.   I am reminded of the beautiful words of the Rev. John Workman, a United Methodist minister, now retired, but once a weekly columnist for the Arkansas Gazette newspaper.  Rev. Workman had this to say about death in a column entitled “Members of the Funeral.” 
  • Death cannot take away the love that parents, children, family members, and friends have for their lost loved one.  Such love remains.  It survives the apparent final victory of the grave.
  • Death cannot take away the contribution a person has made, no matter how briefly or how long that person may have lived.  Death cannot erase the beauty of the life, the dreams dreamed, the love given and received, the good done, the hopes and plans nurtured.  Such realities remain, immune to the finalities of physical death.
  • Death cannot take away the ultimate commitment to life that’s the gift of those who remain.  That commitment is perhaps the greatest honor that can be paid to the deceased - for the surviving to take up life and live it with vigor and joy and purpose, to keep on keeping on.  Such a response is perhaps the grandest memorial a deceased loved one could receive.

 When my husband passed away in 1987, my dear college friend Betsy Singleton passed along Rev. Workman’s words to me.  I kept these words in a bedside table drawer and read them often.  I pass it along to Pam and others like her who will lose a parent or child or dear friend to this terrible cancer beast. 

Like the kids say today, Cancer Sucks.  I’m ready for some brilliant group of researchers to find, not a cure, but a preventive vaccine – like polio and the measles – that will take away this unnecessary physical tragedy in the lives of far too many good people. 

Dear God, please Bless Josh and his family.  Give them peace and free them from the illusion that this is the only world.  Amen.


  1. You, Stacy, are an amzaing human being. faced with your own struggle, you take the time to write about your cancer and that of others, but you also take the time to lend a heartfelt message, or a prayer to others in need.
    I love you, and will be prahing for you today that your surgery will be successful, and that God will guide the surgeons hand's with mastery.
    Much love,


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