No Cure For Cancer

2011-Dec-19 -> from the bringing-hope-to-the-hopeless department Tags:

A young woman lies in a bed. Not a normal flat bed, but one that can adjust to make her more comfortable. Everybody wants her to be comfortable. Her eyes are blue and filled with pain, but she says nothing. People around her have already done so much for her, and she doesn't want to inconvenience them further for the sake of her own comfort. Her face, once young, smooth, and beautiful, is now creased with lines caused by stress and illness. Dark circles under her eyes, drawn in cheeks, and don't ask about her hair. Her hair fell out a long time ago.

The illness that plagues her has taken everything from her. Her strength, her beauty, her youth. She's barely twenty-four years old, and yet she looks forty. She would regain some of her weight and vitality if only she could eat, but everything she eats comes right back up. Intravenous fluids and nutrients help sustain her a little longer, but there's nothing more the doctors can do for her.

She's dying.

Friends and family surround her in the little room. The hospital's rules allow only two visitors at a time, but they have long since forgotten this. As many people as can fit comfortably stand around, offering her love, and comfort. Many of them with tears in their eyes. Her mother holds her hand and tells her to be strong. She has no strength left. No parent should ever have to bury their child.

At one time there was hope. A treatment that could eliminate the cancer that invaded and devoured her body. Four rounds of chemo and radiation therapy, two "successful" surgeries that the doctors assured her had gotten it all, and several experimental drugs later, and all hope was gone. It spread faster than they could treat it.

She looks up at her mom, fights the pain, and smiles. If she could find the breath to whisper, she would tell her mother how much she loves her and all of her family. As she tries to draw it in, it escapes her. The smile will have to do. Her mom leans over, kisses her forehead, and she knows that even without words, her message is heard. She closes her eyes for the last time in her short life.

Every day there are scenes like this, filled with heartache, and pain, and love.

The people who fight this disease, the victims of a bad draw from fate, are awe-inspiring. They are young and old, rich and poor, guilty and innocent. Cancer doesn't care who you are, it just consumes. These days, it's difficult to find somebody who hasn't been touched, in some way, by cancer.

There is hope. A veritable army of people - doctors and nurses, researchers and assistants, caregivers, friends, and family - battle this disease every moment of every day. These people have my love and admiration. It takes a strong person to face this disease head-on and fight to eradicate it.

Fight the good fight, and keep up the good work.

Stronger still are the survivors. They lived through the battle, and should get a medal for this. Anyone who has survived can attest that the treatments are often worse than the disease. Chemo therapy makes you violently ill, and radiation therapy kills off your immune system, leaving you prone to all sorts of other illnesses and infections.

I've been one of those people who watch as my friend or relative slowly fades away. The disease takes them, and you feel helpless to do anything about it. I've also been there to watch the victories, and I can tell you this: it's not pointless. Every ounce of love you give, every second you spend with that person as they battle the illness that ravages their body, is worth it. It gives them strength and helps them carry on, even through the darkest of times.

There is no cure for cancer, but there will always be hope for a brighter tomorrow.


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