I Miss My Grandmother and also Cancer is Crap

My grandmother died of cancer when I was about 14. I didn’t get to see her or say goodbye. I think about her every single day, as I have for over 20 years. I think about her strength and love and her ability to do all things and be all things to everyone. She was Superwoman. She worked full time, raised two daughters, a husband and two granddaughters. She cleaned and cooked and was the perfect wife, mother, daughter, sister, grandmother, neighbor, and friend. She was all these women, did all these things with a smile on her face and a cocktail in her hand, because that was what was expected of her. My grandmother never complained; she never asked for help and she certainly never got tired or sick. Until one day she did. And it was cancer. And there it had been for a very long time. And it was too late. There were no months. There were no weeks. There may have been days. And then there were none.

My grandmother started a trend it seems. Everyone else in my family has died of cancer. Except my grandfather. He did have cancer, but that’s not what killed him. He was always a rebel, my grandfather. But my aunts, uncles, cousins? If they’re dead, they died of cancer. It’s never the same kind; everyone seems to get something different. I’m not very close with my family anymore, extended or otherwise, so we never talk about these things. It was different when my grandparents were alive. Mona and Gayle. They were the glue that held us all together and without them we just can’t seem to stay connected.

A few years ago when my favorite uncle was diagnosed with cancer I actually did some research. It seemed strange to me that someone could get cancer in the esophagus. Stranger still that they would die. And he did. And then his wife was diagnosed with cancer a few months later. So now that I’m older I do a little research when someone gets cancer, if for no other reason than to just know what’s going on. I didn’t do anything when my grandmother died and she is my favorite person in the world. Ever. So I do research, just like I research the cancer that’s killing my dog. And I read survival stories, and I read about new treatments on the horizon. And I just keep reading. I may never be able to have an intelligent conversation about cancer, but the knowledge that I can tuck away inside my little brain makes me feel better, for some inexplicable reason, about my grandmother.

If you or someone you know has been touched by cancer please know that knowledge is power and sometimes that’s the only power you’ll have. There are many websites to help you along the way, places to share stories and connect with others. Sites like Navigating Cancer are a good place to start.


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