Sunday, April 06, 2014

The Other C Word

This weekend I saw an excellent production of To Kill a Mockingbird (seriously, if you live in the greater Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor area, run, don't walk to get tickets).
It was full of beautiful, powerful moments, but Atticus' lines about courage really jumped out to me and have been bouncing around in my mind ever since he spoke them. He explains that courage is

"knowing you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do."

I've often been told how brave I am in this cancer journey (and in my first). That has never made much sense to me, as I'm not doing any of this by choice. I would much rather NOT have cancer, and NOT put my family through all of this. Sure, great life lessons, live in the moment, blah blah blah, but I would really prefer not to have cancer at all. Really. REALLY. Really really for real.

I am, however, surrounded by some very courageous people. Perhaps the most astounding and least acknowledged are the caregivers, the partners, the spouses. They voluntarily attend countless appointments, put up with scanxiety, hold the patient's hand while awaiting daunting test results, and take care of rambunctious munchkins when the patient needs to sleep. (That last one might be specific to me.) None of this is required; it is not their bodies that are resentful hosts to this beast, yet they do it willingly. That is courage.

The other group who knowingly walk into this fray are the doctors and scientists. Sadly, I need to qualify this since I have come across too many that have the - usually unspoken, but not always - belief that people with stage IV cancer are not really worth the trouble and should be sent home to die. Thankfully, there exist some doctors and researchers that dare to dream. I'm talking about the handful who choose not to give up on us, even when the odds of living a long life with metastatic cancer are, well, pretty close to nonexistent. These are the rockstar docs (I've become a bit of a fan girl for some of them). They face hopeless situations with the crazy belief that these people are worth fighting for. They believe that with enough work, seemingly impossible things just might come true. And even if they don't, they will continue to try their damdedest to find a solution.
As Atticus said, 
"You rarely win...

...but sometimes you do."