World Cancer Day is today, the 4th February, and I thought I should write something about it. I have some mixed feelings about it – however many days you dedicate, the NHS is still drastically underfunded and underresourced. People who have cancer, and people who have loved ones with cancer (the current statistic is that one in two of us will be diagnosed with some kind of cancer in our lifetimes) can’t escape it – for me, every day is Cancer Day.
(Image description: my arm, showing off my World Cancer Day band for this year)
For a lot of people, talking about medical things can be very uncomfortable, and even traumatic or triggering. I’ve blotted out much of the process surrounding my diagnosis – if I get well enough, I might need to go back to Italy so that I can have more positive associations with it than constantly being sick and spending most of the time in hospital. Having said that, some of the few memories I do have make me smile – one of my brothers lent me his tablet, and he’d downloaded lots of nun games on it because he thought I’d like them. My other brother said that me being in hospital put his finding a grey hair that morning in perspective (I’m still not entirely sure which was supposed to be worse, the hair or the hospital!) and I have very fond memories of the nurse whose English was much better than my Italian but who used Google translate on her phone to try and communicate with me.
This isn’t to say that the whole experience has been positive, and I still hate the phrase ‘everything happens for a reason’ and any kind of battle or fight imagery. As for ‘God just needed one more angel in heaven’, if anyone says this at my funeral (hopefully not for a while yet!), please punch them for me.
I don’t necessarily think it’s helpful to talk about what I’ve learnt from this, mostly because given the choice, I would rather just not have cancer. You don’t get a ‘day off’ – some days are better than others, and we wouldn’t have got my lovely Arya had it not been for cancer, but I’d still rather not have it, even on ‘good days’.
So, ‘Happy(?)’ World Cancer Day to you all, and thank you to everyone who works in healthcare or research to try and make things a little bit better and a little bit easier.