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Enter, the Cancer Demon

For those of you fortunate enough to have never met the Cancer Demon, let me introduce you.  He (I assume it’s a “he”), lies silently in wait until another victim is diagnosed with cancer.  This shrewd character tip toes in without a sound and takes up permanent residence. That’s right.  Once in the neighborhood, he doesn’t leave although multiple efforts are made to kick him out.

The Cancer Demon stakes his claim as soon as it is mentioned to an individual that cancer is a possibility.  All it takes is a suggestion.  An ultrasound is needed, perhaps a biopsy, or an appointment with a surgeon.  For me, it was all three.  All at once.  He cleverly begins his haunt in your darkest hours.  He’s your constant companion through the resulting days of chemo and radiation, getting fat on your fear and discouragement.

Finally, the day comes when he receives a foreclosure notice and you prepare to thrust him from his cozy dwelling.  Treatments have ended and it’s time to move on.  Excited to get rid of the nuisance who has haunted you for the past year, you prepare to bulldoze his dwelling. Confident you have succeeded, you press forward, finally free of his mocking.

Months, sometimes years pass and a new symptom appears.  The doctor orders more tests, additional imaging.  And then, unexpectedly out of nowhere enters the Cancer Demon.  Wait.  Didn’t you banish him forever?  It is then that you realize he was never gone, just hiding out, waiting for a new opportunity to stick his annoying head out the front window and laugh.  He knows if he waits long enough, another opportunity will arise where he can taunt, create fear, and do his victory dance.

Overcoming the influence of the Cancer Demon is paramount in moving forward after cancer.  I wish I had the perfect solution for all, but it’s an individual matter.  Some succeed in ignoring him, confining him to the basement.  A few of us face him head on, using all our strength to eliminate him, enjoying moments of success until the next cancer scare.  It is a battle for two, and faith and trust must be established to quiet his teasing.  The sooner that is accomplished, the sooner life begins after cancer.  The Cancer Demon hasn’t been exterminated, but you have accomplished the great feat of not letting him win.

Claudia Bretzing

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