Terror always follows cancer
The word came from farm country last week, and it wasn't about the corn harvest. It was about cancer. You would think, maybe, that this kind of news wouldn't be so jarring anymore. How many times has it happened now? How many friends have made th...
The word came from farm country last week, and it wasn't about the corn harvest. It was about cancer.
You would think, maybe, that this kind of news wouldn't be so jarring anymore. How many times has it happened now? How many friends have made that call or sent that e-mail that sends shudders through those of us who receive them?
But that's what it did, again.
You don't know quite what to say when you get the news, and those who are dealing with the news don't know quite what to say back. That doesn't matter. What happens is that you say something. You show up. The rest takes care of itself.
Always, in the beginning, there is the gray area. Cancer is no longer a certain death sentence. The news is always tempered with qualifying remarks. "They plan to do more tests ..." "We'll meet with the doctor to talk about chemo ..."
And so, the process begins. Family members pitch in to take over daily chores. Friends and neighbors rally to the cause. If there's any good side to this sobering news, it's that you find out quickly how many people care about you.
But, for those who must turn out the lights and lie in bed at night, wondering in the dark about what lies ahead, it is a stretch of tough and lonely road. You cannot help tallying the big ledger sheet. Let's see. What kind of life have I lived so far? The kids - isn't that where this discussion always begins? How are they going to be? We did all right with them, didn't we? Remember when Tim brought home his first duck? And how about all those baseball games? And now the grandkids. We're pretty lucky.
We weathered the tough years when the rain didn't come or the prices were down. We managed to put a little bit away and took a few trips. But mostly it's been the day-to-day pleasures. A good meal on the table. The faces of friends. Helping out at church. Rocking a grandchild to sleep. A soft rain on new soybeans. The last load of corn hauled to the elevator.
That's all we can ask, isn't it? We come into this world fresh and naive, make the best choices we can and ride out the consequences.
Then one day, like my friend in farm country, you wake up and feel a lump in your breast or you find that the numbers from the lab aren't right after your annual physical. Fair? No, it is not fair. But you knew about that already. The fair was a place you teased the boys when you were 14.
So you lie there in the dark, not sleeping, trying to let go of the anger and trying to hold off the terror. You try to be thankful for all of the things on the good side of the ledger. You wipe away some of the tears before they hit the pillow. You start wearing scarves. You hang on for wherever this ride is taking you.
SAM COOK is a Duluth News Tribune columnist and outdoors writer. Reach him at (218) 723-5332 or email@example.com .