By Amber Smith
I decided to write you a letter. It seems strange to sit down and write a letter to something that can take on many different forms, however, I’m going to try. You and I have had a relatively short relationship, only spanning the course of three years. Cancer, I never really understood you. I lived in a pretty naive and blissful world. Don’t get me wrong, I always heard about you and what you were capable of, but I never had any direct contact with you. I saw you in commercials, movies, and Instagram posts. I saw ribbons and complete months plastered in pink in awareness of you. I just figured if I don’t pay attention to you, you wouldn’t pay any attention to me, and I was perfectly fine with that.
You, however, didn’t care that I wasn’t looking and came for me through my mother in December 2020. December 16th to be exact. The day my mom told me that she was diagnosed with cancer, it was also my birthday. You can be so cruel, you know. Her fight with cancer was short. Just seven weeks. You were pesky and hiding all over the place. When a doctor pinpointed you and started to destroy you, you popped up somewhere else. One thing you didn’t realize is that I was observing, listening, and spending every moment learning while we settled in at the hospital for our two-week stay before she passed.
When you decided to take my mom from me in such a quick and abrupt manner, giving her no room to beat you, you opened my eyes. I was as close as I thought I would ever be to you. I was angry. I was so sad. Even more, I was determined to never meet you again.
To make sure I did everything possible, I asked my doctor for an early mammogram. Understanding that I was sensitive to cancer after my mom’s passing, she agreed it was a smart move. That’s when we found you. Again, hiding in dense breast tissue so that I had to go through several exams, and a biopsy to confirm that it was you. This time, though, things were going to be different.
This fight against you was going to be calculated. You had no idea who you were messing with. You had no idea the people that stood right beside me pushing me to get better. You had no idea that I would be so organized and tenacious. You didn’t know I would be so particular about my appointments and be so diligent with all my paperwork. You thought I wouldn’t raise over $20,000 with Cycle for Survival just to figure out how to stop you. You thought I would just let you win.
This is where you are very wrong.
You thought you could spread before we found you. Little did you know that finding you would point my life in a direction that is even better than it was before. Without you, I would have been fine, happy and content. With you, I have met incredible people, found my passion, and become closer to people in my life. You gave me a set schedule and forced me to feel emotions and be scared and make decisions with my now husband that make us so incredibly grateful and excited for our future.
Dear cancer, thank you. Thank you for picking me to fight you because I won’t back down. I may be cancer free but the lessons that you left with me are here to stay.