The C Word

Cancer. Statistics indicate that more than 1 in 3 people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime. This statistic, quite honestly, meant very little to me and I’m sure my fellow classmates when sitting, aged around 15 in health class at school. Like most young people you often feel that you are invincible and such facts and figures are there to affect other people, and you will never be one of them.

Having (luckily) never really had much exposure to death or illness within my circle of family or friends, this probably reinforced my blasé attitude towards mortality. Last year, however, I lost my grandmother to this horrific disease and suddenly these statistics had relevance to my life. Christmases will never be the same again without my nan sitting in her chair scolding the girls in the family for not eating enough to have childbearing hips and lecturing the boys on the ridiculousness of their latest tattoos – then falling asleep from too much brandy whilst scratch cards and lottery tickets tumbled out of her handbag. She was not just a grandmother, she was a real character who brought spark, wit and humour into our family. Cancer had snatched her from us.

It was not long afterwards that I found out an old school friend, aged only 25 years old, had been diagnosed with throat cancer. She suffered greatly and even had to have a vocal chord removed. Apart from a now, slightly husky voice she is fighting fit and doing well. Just recently a close friend’s mother was diagnosed with the C word and begins her long and difficult battle with this disease, one I pray she wins. The culmination of all of this resulted in a striking reality check – these are not statistics designed by scientists to scare us, or that only affect other people. These figures are real.

If we stop to consider just how many people we love, and hold dear the odds of ‘1 in 3’ is, in fact, terrifying.

With no all out ‘cure’ for cancer we are left with nothing but the following; providing unlimited support for those suffering and affected, maintaining hope that everything will be okay, and constant strength to get through the trauma that this illness brings on both its victims and those closest to them. They may not be medical solutions, but they are all we have and can make the world of difference when people need it the most.