Make it better

Today cancer took Alan Rickman and I want to swear and throw things at the heavens and crawl back in bed at the same time. Two iconic people and a friend’s mom, gone in the same week from this same terrible thing. This thing. The same thing that has wreaked havoc in my life and is still trying to take over my body. I want to set the whole world on fire, starting with the 3.5cm inches in my chest.

People are often surprised to learn that one of the biggest struggles people with cancer deal with is guilt. Most people are shocked or even frustrated. “You have cancer, why do you feel guilty? You should feel anything but guilty in this situation!”. But here is the thing: cancer is like storming the beach and having better people than you fall right beside you while you keep going. It’s seeing your bank account empty and your kids be scared and upset because the cells in your body decided to go rogue. It’s calling everyone you know and giving them terrible news, and having people go out of their way to help you.

Cancer opens you up a world of suffering that you could distance yourself from before. You have to ask yourself what your role will be now. What can you do with this guilt and anger?

This week has been a hard one. Deaths and denials and battles, all piled into a few hours. It’s been exhausting and I’ve been clutching Anne Lamott books to my chest, looking for some calming insight on how to handle it all. It’s also been infuriating and empowering. Things are broken and need to be fixed. They can be fixed. I’m working on projects that I will hopefully be able to share soon. These projects are the fires that I am hoping to set. I reached out to the highest level of my company and they are reviewing the company policy on paid leave. Maybe nothing changes, but the conversation is happening and I have never been more proud to work for any company.

I don’t believe we will find a cure for cancer any time soon, but I do believe we can make this nightmare of an experience better.