Two Positives Of Having Cancer, Yes, I Said "Positives"

Wait.. I know what you are going to say. Cancer?? Positives?? You must have smoked some bad rainbows there, you chipper idiot. Well, you might be right about the rainbow thing, but guess what? There really are a few positive aspects to having cancer. I mean, not enough to ever make you think for even one second if someone said would you rather not have cancer or... Of course, the answer to that is always “not have cancer,” but seeing as how that’s not an option, there’s no harm in looking at some of the positives that came from my experience with cancer.

I can guess that some of you have stopped reading after that first paragraph, and those who are still here, I’m betting there’s a significant portion of you that are simply hate-reading this just to leave a snarky comment on how I have mush for brains. That’s fine, I’ll take all the eyeballs I can get, no matter what the reason because the fact of the matter is there are a few things that cancer gave me that I count in the plus column.

Cancer is a true test for relationships

First and foremost, cancer is the best relationship bullshit-cutter in the entire world. There is nothing at all that shows you the true person inside yourself and others, as well as the big C. Friends, family, acquaintances, you get to see real quick who puts their money where their mouth is when cancer comes calling. For instance, there are a few of us, me included, who learned that one of the people who were supposed to be the closest to us simply didn’t have the conviction to deal with the worst when it actually came walking through the door.

Our significant others – mine was a spouse, but it also applies to girlfriends, boyfriends, lovers, paramours, and friends with benefits. There are a number of us who lost the person closest to us when the cancer diagnosis was handed down, and in fact, when I first posted on Facebook about the divorce, I thought I was the only person this could have ever happened to. I was shocked when others responded with “me too!” It is, sadly, more common than you could ever think. I mean, if you asked 100 people, “would you leave your significant other if they got cancer?” I’m willing to bet 99/100 would say “no way,” and that last person is probably some sort of crazy serial killer. The thing is, a “maybe in the future” event, and a real event that’s actually happened are worlds apart.

This goes for all relationships in your life

Even if you don’t lose a significant other, it applies to friends and relatives as well. When I got cancer, I was shocked that one of the people I thought would be the first to line up and volunteer to give the most love, the most help, was the person who literally evaporated off the face of the Earth. In fact, I had to chase this person down just to say, “Hey, uhh, so, where have you been?” Why? I never got a clear answer, but my best guess is that it hit too close to home – this person had cancer in their family, and being confronted with it every day was just too much. I suppose I can’t blame them. Or maybe I can?

Either way, it showed me the true measure of that person real fast. It also works in reverse, though. I had an acquaintance who I was sure I’d never hear from and that person stepped up in a huge way even though I hadn’t seen them in years. I was shocked at the level of communication, honestly, and it was even a bit surreal, talking to this person so much when not interacting with them for years before. They came, though, and filled a void, and I was grateful. As I said, cancer cuts through the bull better than any other force in the world when it comes to relationships.

An appreciation of the time we have

Second, cancer really does give you an appreciation of the time you have. I know, it’s trite and hackneyed and belongs on a needlepoint throw pillow, but cancer really does make you think about the saying, “live each day as if it’s your last.” There’s a reason that people who survive cancer frequently do things like get into shape, write books, get promoted at work, have children, and complete long-put off projects – we understand, now, just how quickly the life you know can be taken away and flushed down the toilet.

You can watch as many movies about dying as you want and be told by your grandparents 100 times to value the time you have, but until it happens to you it’s simply lip service being paid. When you have to do something as morbid as detail your wishes for after you’re gone, it’s really difficult to avoid thinking about all the things you haven’t done and make a promise to yourself that if you survive, you’re going to do as many of those things as you can. Like I said, it’s cliché as Hell, but it’s true, and cancer gives you a swift kick in the butt to get moving.

There are other positive things to come from having cancer, but these are the biggest two for me. I’d love to hear some of the positives you experienced when the worst day of your life came calling. Yes, of course, as I said, you’d rather not have had cancer, but as that’s not one of the choices and realizing a few small positives can come from something so horrible is a step in the direction of recovery. Talk soon.

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