Redefine the word
She looked back at me with a terrified stare. Somewhat bemused but also with a tinge of overflowing guilt that was hiding beneath her approximated smile. An allaby being built at the back of her conciousness, a beseeching stare to a husband that audienced this somewhat entertaining moment.
Half way through a moderately brisk walk a few mornings back, which during a chemothereputic beating qualifies as daily cardiovascular exercise, I stumbled upon a almost forgotten mutual acquaintance. After a friendly well distanced 2m wave and glorified pubescent smile her response was, very fairly, to question the almost immediate absence of a well groomed mane. How could I not express, truthfully, why I have denied myself my illustrious and beautiful hair. So I told her my story, mentioned the terrifying and notoriously unnerving C word. I blurted it all out, with no reserve. As I continued to throw out the unmentionable word, the terrified stare slowly began to unfold itself across a perplexed face.
What I have learnt during my battle against Testicular Cancer is that we have a very poor understanding of Cancer. Malignancy, aberrant growth of cells who have lost the ability to a programmed death, apoptosis, undifferentiated growth of cellular material. The word provokes so many different feelings, emotional responses not justified by deeper understanding but rather driven by previous experiences or self imagined hopeless outcomes.
Cancer is not hopeless. The diagnosis needs to be redefined. My point is not to detract from its sometimes absolutely relentless and ferocious course, my point is not to change the poignancy of this illustrious disease but rather to speak of its sometimes forgotten twin brother. Cancer comes in so many shapes and sizes, its chooses its victims with no criteria and continually breaks the rules. Therefore the stigma of hopeless sadness for all Cancers is not fair. The untamed growth of tissue that does not belong in our body has been umbrella’ed with the term Cancer and hopefully this short and emotional explanation will help to minimise terrified stares and uncertain response when the big old C word happens to find its way into conversation in the future.
You see, my testicle was different to many of the others floating around in the warm caress of hairy legs and tights semi synthetic cotton pouches. The Genetic makeup that allowed him to grow was very minutely maligned, resulting in him taking some rebellion turns and growing some felonious cells, much like your teenage child may plant a marijuana plant in the back garden. This however could happen to any genetic makeup in our bodies, usually dictated by our inherent genetic plans but with some influence from the environment and lifestyle actions. Just like your teenagers friends who somehow thought it would be a good idea to have a dangerous back garden. This happening all come with crying degrees of agressoin, and in my opinion don’t all deserve to be labelled with the mighty C word. Everyone responds differently to this slight deviation of normal cellular material, depending on so many uncontrollable factors.
In my story I I don’t believe I belong in the Herculean C-Gang, I’m still standing in the rain, outside the confines of this massive umbrella. I am incredibly lucky. My testicle saw the light, his inner rebel was softened by the allure of a good life. My heart goes out to all of those who are similar and dissimilar to myself. To all people who have had to come even close to shade of this umbrella. Despite the indisputable power of cells to bring us so much hurt, we still have the power to chose how we respond to their choosings.
It doesn’t hurt me to talk about my path, to say that Cancer is part of me. I understand fully the origins of her scared stare. I understand her search for comfort in a change of topic. I understand fully. I hope however that one day, instead of an unsteady and uncertain glare, her cheeks will pull toward her ears, her eyes will brighten, her face will speak of hope.