Tag Archives: leukemia

The Cancer Word

As I drove home tonight it dawned on me that I have nobody to talk to. I mean really talk to non-superficially about the Cancer word. I’m so upset that I’m blogging. And I’m not sure how this will work out. If  putting these words out there in cyber world will make me feel better because they definitely don’t change the Cancer. I’m not a very gifted writer but thankfully, there is no teacher here to correct my fragmented thoughts with a red pen.

My Grandfather, 73 years old, has multiple myeloma. We found out this September.

I know that people die and, for the most part, I accept this. But my grandparents are supposed to be the exception to that rule. These people raised me. And although our relationship has not been easy and I am not sure how to express my gratitude toward them in a non-awkward feeling way, they are supposed to be infinite.

I wasn’t even supposed to know about the cancer. My whole life, my grandfather has been strangely independent for a blind man. And strong. Always strong. So no, cancer. I am not a fan of yours.

In May I graduated after a series of on-again-off-again-change-the-major attempts. And that was only for my Associates degree. I really wanted my Grandfather to be there. To finally make him proud that I was getting my life together.

When I told my Grandmother the date of my graduation, she told me he wouldn’t be coming. Maybe it was the wrong way to take it, but I took this as a personal insult. Like maybe he wasn’t proud of me. He’d called me a “career college student” before, as an insult. It surfaced up years of anger. Finally, after several phone calls back and forth, Grandma confessed that she wasn’t supposed to tell anyone but he had been sick lately. And by lately we’re talking about six months. The kind of sick that won’t allow a person to sit through a long graduation ceremony. I instantly thought cancer but she assured me “there are tons of things it could be and I’ve finally convinced him to go to the doctor.” Getting my Grandfather to go to the doctor for anything is a feat. In the 20 years that I lived with them before moving on my own, I can think of maybe a handful of occurrences that he actually went to a physician.

So, with that reassurance, I took to the internet to convince myself it could be anything but cancer. With all of the symptoms she described to me I came to one conclusion. It was cancer. And I cried to myself and I cried to my then-boyfriend. I cried to everyone but my Grandmother because I don’t often show that emotion with her and I didn’t want her to feel worse.

Summer came and passed. In September, my Grandmother let me know that my Grandfather was in the hospital. She wouldn’t tell me why but I’m a bright girl so I connected the dots. It had to be the Cancer I was sure he had. Through conversation, she dropped the name of “the specialist” that was running tests on him. I googled the hell out of this man. I found out where he went to school, past work history, that he has a family and, oh, that he’s an oncologist.

When I was finally told “multiple myeloma”, I remembered reading about it in my initial quest for answers. I remember reading “no cure” and seeing the comparison to leukemia and hoping that it wasn’t multiple myeloma because I needed there to be a way to fight this. And while there are drugs, it’s now the day after Christmas and I just had what I’m sure will be the last Christmas with my Grandfather.

And he couldn’t lift the small electric blanket I bought him for his always-cold feet. And he couldn’t tear the paper because he’s so weak. My Grandfather sat there, helpless, in his recliner chair in his bedroom and admitted, in front of me, that he was uncomfortable. He’s a skeleton. His hair is so white and his face so hollow. He’s not the man I remember raising me. Today he swam in his sweatshirt and couldn’t tear paper. He couldn’t join us for dinner nor did he even want to eat in his bedroom. I feel so mad.

I hate you, cancer.

This is my blind grandfather who liked to show off that he could garden, jump rope and move about independently. This is the man who I could scream and argue with for hours when I was a teenager. The same man I would yell to that I hoped he would die. And now he is. It’s like the sick moral of a sappy story to watch what you say. Only, he was never supposed to get sick. Immortal beings don’t get cancer.

Tonight, I’m thinking back on all of the times when this Roman Catholic man would inform me that Jesus was going to give him back his eyesight. And he stated this as a fact. I used to scoff at him and tell him how very atheist I am. This is the man who sat in his room and did rosaries for hours and would ask me to read him the bible but I had better things to do. Looking back, I would give anything to be an 8 year old girl again so that I could read to him. And it wouldn’t matter what. I wish I had the guts as a 25 year old to offer to do it but I don’t.  And beside the guts issue, I’m not sure he has the strength to sit and try to build a last-minute-ditch relationship with me.

I hate cancer.