Cancer affects everyone in some little way.
Everyone loses someone to cancer. A friend, a loved one, a mother, a cousin, a sister, a brother, a father. Cancer touches everyone, spreading its poison.
I was touched by cancer, and I still have the scar on my heart. It’s puckered and pink, and is still sore. On May 23, 2009, I lost my grandpa to Mesothelioma, a rare cancer that occurs in the thin layer of tissue that covers the majority of your internal organs. Mesothelioma is caused from asbestos.
I remember when we first learned he had cancer, and I remember being terrified. I also remember that only eight percent of people diagnosed with the cancer he had, lived for only three years maximum after being diagnosed. We had him for nearly two years, and those two years were a blessing.
I remember going to Wisconsin to visit his family there. I remember leaving, and I think it was then that it really hit me that he was dying. I saw the tears being shed between him and his siblings, his family that he rarely saw, and knowing that was the last time he would probably see them. The impact of that knowledge made a hard, cold, unforgiving lump form in my throat as I cried entering the airport.
I don’t remember much from when he was on chemo, just that he was sick a lot. I remember when he was off treatment. I remember feeling like he was drifting further and further away, and to be honest, it scared me.
This was one of my best friends I was watching wilt away slowly. The man who taught me how to drive a tractor while on his lap. The man who spun me around in large orange Tupperware bowls when my little bum was small enough to fit. The man whose hands were rough and worn from years on the farm and in his shop, but only used them for the good of others and were always warm and welcoming. My Papa has to be one of the greatest men I have ever known in my life.
The morning my mother called me, saying my Papa had passed, I remember it didn’t hit me until my dad drove me to his house and it felt eerily empty. I remember, walking through the back door, and had a moment of ‘Where is Papa?’ forgetting that they had already taken him away.
I wish there was a cure for cancer back then, but I know Papa is in a better place now. He feels no more pain, and I know he is watching over us.
This is why I am doing Relay for Life. I want to prevent other kids from feeling this ache that I feel, from the pain of losing someone they love and hold close to their heart. If I can help find a cure, I will help hundreds and thousands of people survive this killer. And I will help millions of people keep those who they love with them.