I am in Texas this week with family and with an uncle battling cancer.
There is nothing special about us, except perhaps for the size.
My dad is one of four brothers. All four are all still married, going on 50-year anniversaries each. Between the four of them, they had 12 children. We now have 31 children between the 12 of us.
We were a dozen cousins growing up in Texas, packed into about 8 years. Close doesn’t even begin to describe us. The cousin two weeks younger than me has always been one of my best friends.
So when our uncle found blood in his urine last July, everyone was told. He went straight in for surgery that week to have his kidney removed. It was cancer. He was put on the leading drugs. And his cancer came roaring back. It was in his abdomen, on his liver, his abdominal wall. It seemed to be everywhere.
We saw him in August. “I’m tired, like I have the flu, Rob, but we’re going to fight this thing. We’re going to beat it.” He knew that he was not fighting it alone. It wasn’t just this enormous family, the dozen cousins who now have 31 little ones between them, it was his faith.
“We” meant all of that. We knew it.
So when we got to Texas this week, we wanted to see him first. He’s dropped 60 pounds, but he took my hand, took my shoulders and said, “I’m a little weak. My back hurts. But we’ve got this. We’ve got this.” His spirit has always been indomitable. His laser blue eyes, like those of his brothers, my dad, pierced through the pain, crystal clear, focused, fierce.
If love could cure cancer, we would have this. We have flooded him with so much love that there would no longer be room for the tumors, the lesions, the growth.
But it hasn’t. At least not yet. So he stands with the 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women in the United States who will get cancer in their lifetime. He stands with the 41% expected to face this disease, a disease that is now the leading cause of death by disease in children under the age of 15 in America. He stands to fight it.
Cancer doesn’t care who we are, where we are from or what side of the aisle we are on. It is vicious. It is a formidable foe. But it wasn’t always this way. The statistics were not always this high. It did not always touch this many people that we love.
And that gives me hope. Hope that we can roll back this disease, that we can stop the tsunami of diagnoses that are happening, that we can stop the exploding growth rates in children, that we can cure my uncle and others fighting this wicked disease.
We haven’t cured cancer yet, but the more that we learn about this disease, its triggers, from those found in the food supply to those in our environment, the more we can learn how to stop it.
Love is a rocket fuel. Passion and perseverance can accomplish the impossible…even to end cancer.
Some might say it’s impossible.
I have no time for impossible.
Because “impossible” is just a word given to something that has not been done yet.
Written in memory of Jarren D.