The Elephant in the Room is Cancer. Tea is the Relief Conversation Provides.

Dear Cancer, I Feel So Much Guilt

by Amanda CharronJuly 8, 2021View more posts from Amanda Charron

Dear Cancer,

Now more than ever, I realize how time is of the essence, so I’ll jump right in.

The worst part of you wasn’t when you invaded my body. Nor was it the sub sequential lengthy doctor appointments, joined by endless needle pokes. Not the looks of grave concern on stranger’s faces, which felt like a punch to my deteriorating gut, as I strolled the isles of a market on one of my good days. It wasn’t even the grueling effects of chemotherapy or the double mastectomy that followed, all because your presence demanded to be acknowledged.

Cancer, the worst thing about you is how even after having rid my body of you, you linger. 

You’re like an invasive weed, always popping up among my pleasant garden of thoughts.

And more than anything, I despise having to witness you invade the temples of my loved ones. I stand helpless as you pillage, taking every fruit of their spirit hostage, leaving behind much pain and fear in all of us.

If you can believe it, most of the loved ones I’m referring to, I’ve only known a short time. Because you are our common acquaintance and because of our shared realization of how short life can be, it’s as if these loved ones and I have known each other for a lifetime. Perhaps we have when I really think about it. My life before you seems almost nonexistent at times. I was an entirely different person before we met, and as much as I had anticipated becoming her again once you left me, I’m now aware that won’t be happening. That’s not actually a horrible thing though, Cancer. I was ungrateful before I met you. Your ugliness has somehow cultivated my beauty.

Before I end my letter, I do have a couple of important questions for you. 

Why do you choose to end my friends’ lives instead of mine?

They’re parents and spouses too. Some of them had much less time with their kids than I have had with mine. All of them were so accomplished and loving. 

I feel so much guilt over this.

I write that question in my diary from time to time. On those days, my mind feels weighed down with the question of how I can best live my life to honor them and myself in spite of the negative impact you hold over me.

Rather than staying in this place, I remind myself that these thoughts will pass. They’ll come back and then will pass once more, on and on like waves. I actually think tsunami would make for better imagery. Yes, Cancer, they’ll pass through like a tsunami, leaving lots of destruction, but I’ll work hard to repair whatever damage you’ve done, becoming stronger, more committed to my well-being than before. More committed to the world’s well-being too.

Cancer, I have just two more questions for you. 

Will you end my life one day? 

Will it be soon?

I often suspect that the odd sensation in my left rib is you trying to reacquaint. It’s too soon, fucker. I’m still recovering from the last time. My kids are still recovering from the last time.

If only I could control you. 

But then I would’ve never met some of my best friends. I wouldn’t appreciate the pure, earthly joy of inhaling the scent of my youngest’s hair like I do now. Or the overwhelming beauty in my daughter’s laugh even though I’ve heard it a thousand times before.  I would definitely still be sweating the little things, which you’ve taught me, almost all of it is. 

If I could control you, I don’t think I would try so fervently to live my life to honor God and the friends that I’ve lost, all because I would assume that there is always later to do that. 

While you’ve taken away so much from me, you’ve also unintentionally given me a lot. Thank you for that, I guess.

I’m sure I will continue to write you, though I hope the letters become less and less frequent.

May we never meet again,


To read this letter and the other letters to cancer, click here to read and download the June 2021 Magazine

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