Cancer is Like Rain

The other day, I was driving down to the hospital to see my new oncologist. My previous one had retired and was off somewhere in South America. She was a bird watcher. I had a strange spot on my forehead that was the same strawberry color as my angiosarcoma had been on my right breast in 2016. I feared I had some kind of cancer on the skin of my face. Deep down, I knew I was probably overreacting, but I wanted to get an expert opinion before I wrote the spot off as something harmless.

Turns out, the mark was harmless. My oncologist said it was most likely a scratch, but she told me to come back if it didn’t disappear in a week. I don’t remember scratching my head, but I guessed anything was possible. I was relieved, to say the least.

It was pouring down rain, a soaker.At this point, I was driving home.I was happy to be in the car and not outside. And then, I saw him: a man carrying grocery bags in one hand and holding an umbrella over his head in another. His condition seemed to be miserable. I could tell he was wet from head to toe. I was so glad I wasn’t him. At that point, I didn’t think I’d ever be in his position.

A few days later, I was taking a walk to the nearby grocery store.When I left the house, it was clear, but suddenly, the sky opened up and rain poured from above. I didn’t even have an umbrella. As the rain came down, it seeped through my fleece winter jacket and onto my skin.I knew the people in the passing cars were probably remaking to themselves, “What a poor soul to be out in this rain without even an umbrella.”And yet, no one stopped to pick me up. I wouldn’t have gotten in a stranger’s car anyway. They were probably thinking to themselves, “I’ll never be in that position,” just as I had.

Getting cancer is kind of like getting stuck out in the rain — torrential rain. You never think it will happen to you. You take precautions, but sometimes even with these precautions, the disease falls upon you. People stare at you from the comfort of their non-cancerous safe places. They feel sorry for you. They say things like “that poor soul.”

Of course, cancer is much, much, much worse than getting drenched by the rain. You can dry off from the rain. With cancer comes chemo, radiation, surgery and medicines.And that’s if you’re lucky. If you’re not, there’s death.

My whole family and I have faced the possibility of my death. Many prayers have gone up to prevent my passing. They have worked. I’m 13 years out from my first breast cancer and eight years out from my second. Even with this good fortune, I don’t breathe easily.

I’m always secretly thinking the cancer will return. That’s why I end up in my oncologist’s office now and then. She treats me with respect and kindness, always willing to examine something strange or unusual on my body.

I will never doubt that the pour soul traveling in the pouring rain will never be me again.

That’s just how it goes. Rain happens.

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