Terrified Of Cancer

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Cancer is a boa constrictor that squeezes you from the inside and encapsulates the rest of your family into a smothering chokehold. Cancer is a terrorist that doesn't discriminate. There are citizens in the United States (I'm passive aggressively referring to the Trump supporters) who have become so terrified of "Islamic terrorism" they are suggesting we rewrite the entire doctrine on which our country was based. However, in 2015, "Islamic terrorism" accounted for 37 deaths in six attacks in America while cancer recruited 1,658,370 new patients and killed 589,430.

My aunt has been raped by ovarian cancer and its consequent treatments for four years. My husband's aunt is having a parallel journey halfway across the country and we sit and wonder which funeral will be first. My aunt is in New York City and we think she gets access to better treatment, and most recently a clinical trial. She is miserable, though. She hasn't hasn't had a happy day since her diagnosis, for which I was her right-hand woman.

Her life is consumed by cancer and her brain, although not full of tumors, is flooded with cancer. In fact, so is mine.

I've been scared of cancer ever since I watched that terrible Susan Dey movie, I Love You Perfect and it scarred me, putting into my mind the thought that as soon as you find the love of your life, a radical mass of cells gone rogue will take over your organs and kill you. Before I googled it today, I was sure I had seen this movie when I was ten years old but now I realize I was 15.

You can't get a vaccine for cancer, yet. Marilu Henner says I can continue to eat a plant-based diet, drink ionized water and do skin brushing. I create rainbows of food each evening for my family, thinking, "this is my medicine; this is the only thing I have in my power to try to create a strong immune system to have a chance against this terrorist."

But that's the thing about terrorism ... you can't predict it, you can't prepare for it, and you can't prevent it. Terrorism climbs into our brains and like sepsis, paralyzes us from living, consuming every thought with fear.

I had three friends diagnosed with cancer by March of this year; it's the reverse lottery where you pray, "not me, please just spare me."

I just read two cancer books back to back. My therapists would advise me against this; I should not continue to dive into tragedy after tragedy, adding scenarios for me to draw from when the fear strikes. The new mole on my back -- was it always there? Melanoma. The wheeze I heard in my lung -- did you hear it? I never had that before; lung cancer is the second biggest woman killer in our country. A headache right behind the eye? Brain tumor. My poop looks funny; colon cancer.

My anxiety of cancer is just a branch of the neurosis in my brain. My overactive "what-if" generator is my ultimate terrorist. My unimaginative brain comes to life in a medical arena. I excel at piecing together any string of innocuous symptoms to create frightening deadly diseases. I'm learning, to negotiate, though. Even though Hollywood movies have echoed how "we don't negotiate with terrorists," I may just have to sweet talk mine into releasing me from morbid thoughts for just a minute. So I can breathe easy, knowing no matter what happens, something will kill me anyway.