by Jose Baez
Dear Colon Cancer,
For five and half years we have had a turbulent and, at times, violent relationship. You came on strong, skipping all stages and going straight to stage 4 like I was a pushover. It caught me off guard, surrendering to the overwhelming emotional strain of your demand for attention. But with help from family and friends, I started to realize how much stronger I am. With professional help from my oncologist, I fought back against your will to dominate me. Although the seven months struggle took a toll on my body, I got rid of you.
From that point on, I decided to become educated in all your tricks and deceptions. I feared that sometime in the future you would make another run to restart this unhealthy relationship. I prepared my body to be stronger through exercise and better nutrition. I prepared my mind through meditation, faith in God and by surrounding myself with caring people.
A year later you sneaked back into my life. But you were not expecting how quickly I fought back. You expected to drain my resolve and spirit, yet the opposite happened. Your merciless grip was broken once again. Even though the six months left me with more physical and emotional scars, I grew stronger and more determined to keep you out of my life. I resolved not to fear you but to embrace the new me, braver and full of love for living.
You returned only a few months later but with not much determination. I beat you back with an ablation. I felt invincible and elated to know you did not have much left. It was a mistake on my part. Four months later, somehow, you were back in my life but ruthlessly spreading to other parts of my body. I was told there was no cure for me from your grip. Sadly, I will admit that it hurt so much to hear that you were staying in my life forever. I cried and fell into despair. But it was short lived, so do not get your hopes up!
The first three months were hard. I fought back with determination at a great cost. I could not eat or drink and was constantly nauseous. I lost thirty pounds and my will wavered so much that I almost wanted to quit, letting you win. But I stuck to it. After removing the last piece of you from my body, I was free again! The next six months were better. With the help of the hepatic arterial infusion pump, keeping you away was easier.
The following year was a blessing. Not you! Although we searched constantly every three months there were no signs of you. It seemed I overcame the odds and finally convinced you to stay away from me. That year was a period of healing, not only physically but emotionally. With time to reflect, I decided to become a champion against you. I met others who have struggled with you. With them, I have grown emotionally stronger and happier.
So I do owe you some gratitude as weird as it sounds. It’s true that our struggles are our best teachers in life. You taught me to be strong, to trust in others and to appreciate the small stuff in life. Because of you, I have met so many amazing people that have enriched my life. For that, I will always be thankful. But please, do understand that I still do not want you in my life! From this point on, I will do my best to help others fighting against you and to spread the word on how to detect your presence early.
I do not know what my future will bring. You have returned again to challenge my resolve. As we explore my options and create the battle plan against you, I do want you to know that you may one day beat my body but you have lost your fight against my spirit long ago. Understand that this is a one sided relationship now. You do not define who I am. I know who I am!