Dear Cancer Patient,

Dear readers, followers, wonderful people, fambuly :), friends, dear world:

I wanted to send this declaration of existence to you. Many of you are aware that I am being treated for cancer at the moment. Many of you are not aware.  But I thought, what better way to let you know than to stomp my foot down on the ground, and declare that I am stronger than ever, and never, ever giving up.

If you feel so inclined, please send this to your friends and/or fambuly. Anyone who you feel could benefit from it. Knowing that there is someone out there who is never giving up may just help them one tiny bit. And if I can do that, I will!

____________________________________________________

Dear Cancer Patient,

It is not your fault. And no, you are not being punished. I know at times you may feel like you can’t take it anymore; you may feel like it’s easier to let go. And it’s OK to feel like that – I know it’s been a long road. But don’t you ever give up. Surrendering to your experience is one thing, but giving up is something else entirely.

I have seen what giving up can do. Because I’ve been there. I’ve done that. I’ve collapsed into the exhaustion; I’ve collapsed into the despair; I have collapsed into the helplessness. I have given up before.
I can see the dullness in your eyes. I can see the light fading, dimming in the presence of your hopelessness. You look so tired. You look so very sad. I can feel your grief. I can feel your pain.
And I know your pain. I know the grief that clings to your memories, it reminds you of what you have lost. Not all the time; no it is more subtle than that. It creeps in when you least expect it. It slams into your heart to remind that at times you have to give up to remember that you are human.
I know the visions the grief brings – the haunting possibilities of a bleak future for your family that doesn’t include you. I know how you wept on the bathroom floor, imagining yourself making recordings of story books so the girls could listen to you read to them at night… even after you were gone. I know how you collapsed that night, your very heart ripped, torn in two from the grief you felt for their loss and for yours. So many memories stolen, taken away. So many sweet moments running like water through your hands. And I know how it was all your fault.

You didn’t eat well enough. You didn’t manage your stress. You never confronted the people you needed to. You never spoke your truth. You never had the courage to be who you really are… nor did you have the courage to go looking for who you really are. You failed. You failed miserably, and now you’re going to die because of your failure. I know.

I know how the pain washes over you like a black cloak of oil – so heavy, so thick. There is no fighting it. You just relax into it, let it take you. It’s been such a long, hard road. You deserve to rest. To rest in peace forever… to rest… to rest… to rest.
Then you hear a voice, Get up, God Damnit! Something screams inside of you. There MUST be another way!
You respond, “No, no. I want to rest… I want to rest… I want to sleep, forever.”
You reach out one last time, and it is towards death. You welcome its gnarly, cold, bony hand to grab you and tow you away. You’re even smiling, perhaps, welcoming the rest, the finality of the situation. Oh, the sweetness of surrender… Only this is not surrender, my friend. This is hopelessness.
You close your eyes, hand outstretched, smile on your face… It is coming… it is coming! But the hand that touches yours is not cold, it is not bony, it is not hard… it is soft. Soft and warm. And it is pulling you into light. It is pulling you away from your rest.
You don’t understand. You open your eyes to look around, to get your bearings. Death is miles away, now. In fact it isn’t even in your sights. The only thing you can see is light. And on the other side of it, past the hand is brilliance. Brilliance you have never seen nor have you ever even imagined. Your focus is blurry. You strain to see what it is. Who the hand belonged to, where you’ve been taken.
And then… Nothing. You are left with nothing. No one is there. No one is with you. It is just you.
It is just you. It is just… You.
 
This is when you have your hissy fit; this is when you lose it. And I know because I have lost it.
You fight; you kick; you scream; you yell. You feel betrayed. Your death, your rest was stolen from you. That was it! You were there. You were ready. You wanted this. You surrendered. You accepted. Oh but my friend, you didn’t. You gave up.
And this is what happened.

Something shows up, now. Something you did not expect. You are not actually alone anymore. Something else is with you. It is deep and profound. It feels like light. It feels like a different story. It feels like a different ending, a different beginning.
It is a choice.
A choice shows up. And when it does, it is delivered by divine guidance, and it is delivered especially and precisely for you. Because it is a part of you.
When this choice is given to you, something changes… something shifts. You find yourself reaching for it. You find yourself feeling stronger. You find yourself feeling… alive again.
The blood rushes in. Your heart pounds. You begin to see more clearly. You begin to see past the light and into a life you never even dreamed for yourself. There are people here you recognize, streets and towns you know; there are experiences that are familiar. But there are also things you can not make out – colors, shapes, experiences, places, people you have never seen before. And they are blurry. But they are there! Moving, flowing, showing you their vibrancy. They are yours.
And you find something you lost. Something you gave up. Something you longed for, but forgot how badly you longed for it.
You find… your hope.
And when you pick it up tenderly and place it to your heart, you become filled with gratitude you did not think was possible. Your body fills with light. Your chest beams with gold. Your face is filled with a smile of tenderness and love beyond anything you’ve ever experienced. You are overtaken by your gratitude. Tears of joy roll down your cheeks. You breath heavy, long breaths and feel the air fill your lungs. You feel your life. You hear your heart beating. You notice the sounds around you. You see the visions in front of you – blurred and un-blurred – with more vividness than is humanly possible. You see yourself. You see your life. You see… the possibility.
And you thank every single person, every single experience, every single place you’ve ever been for what it has contributed to your life. Because without those things, you would not be here, tenderly clutching your hope to your chest. You would not be the beams of light and the wealth of wisdom that you are. You would not be the hope you needed to survive.
I know this because I have been with you all along… I am YOU.

Don’t you EVER give up.

© Stefanie DelPrete 2014

if you guessed that the reference to fambuly came from the Real Women of SNL… you’d be right 🙂

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