09 September 2010

Three Little Words

It's amazing how some of the most important messages that can be communicated between people only require three little words to get the point across. It baffles me how the English language can be so expansive, with hundreds of thousands of words, yet all it takes is three words to make a profound statement. Sometimes those three-word phrases give joy, such as "I love you" or "It's a girl", and those three little words light up hearts brighter than the eastern sky.

But other times, the three little words bring pain, sorrow, and uncertainty.

You see, there is one particular three word phrase that no one should ever have to hear from anyone. Words that do nothing but cause hurt. Words that destroy families. Words that kill.

If I had it my way, this three word phrase would be forever banished to the depths of hell, never to return to the surface where they can inflict never-ending pain upon those who hear them.

Three little words.

I have cancer.

It's real. It's heart-wrenching. It's sobering. Those three little words remind us of our own mortality, that our absolute appointment with death is closer than we may have originally thought, and it hurts like hell. It doesn't get any easier to digest after you've heard them, either. I can bear witness to that.

The image of a phone conversation with my brother last week is still burning in my brain as if it were 5 minutes ago. No matter what I do to distract myself I am constantly reminded of that exact moment when he broke the news to me.

Last Thursday, I was sitting at work and suddenly I saw my cell phone ringing. I should have known something was wrong when I saw his number on the caller-ID, because he's not the type to just call me up to discuss the weather. He's just like me when it comes to talking on the phone (i.e. - we hate it). It's funny how brothers can be alike in so many weird ways, yet be totally different in others.

Anyway, I remembered that he previously told me he had a doctor's appointment because he had been abnormally sick for several weeks, but I never in a million years would have imagined that he would have cancer. That's just not something that goes through your head when you get a phone call from your brother. I was expecting him to tell me something about where his fiancee would be stationed after she completes her training (she's in the Air Force), but I never thought I would hear those three little words that he had to say.

Cancer? How can he have cancer?

Talk about a bombshell - I'm still not over the effects of that conversation. Ever since he told me, I've been in a daze - like I'm in the middle of a bad dream and can't wake up from it. Perhaps I haven't quite wrapped my head around it yet, or perhaps I've accepted it and moved on, without even realizing I've done so. I do have a tendency to compartmentalize everything - have I already tucked this away in the back corner of my mind as a coping mechanism, or am I still in shock and will have a total meltdown when it all sinks in?

I have no freaking clue.

The hardest part is not knowing what the future holds. There's still uncertainty in regards to treatment options, quality of life, likelihood of survival, etc., and it's destroying my soul because I can't just "know". Sometimes I wish I could look into a crystal ball and see that everything's going to be alright, but I can't. Knowing that I can't makes it hurt even more.

I don't know what to do. I don't know how to help. Feeling helpless doesn't make matters any better, because I'm the type of person who likes to solve problems. Approaching the unsolvable is something I prefer to avoid, and something that I'm not accustomed to.

What I do know is that I have a long road ahead, because not only do I have to travel down the path of the concerned relative who doesn't know what lies ahead, I also have to pick my brother up on my shoulders, and carry him through the fire.

Three little words.

Yes, I believe.

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