I’m sick of cancer.
Not my own. I don’t have it. Not yet, anyway. The stats in this country are 1 in 4. An epidemic, really. An environmental disease, I believe. What do I do? I eat broccolli. Quinoa. Blueberries. I take my vitamins. I drink wine, eat cake. I play the odds.
Too many of my friends, family, and friends-of-friends have been struck. I’m sick of cancer of the larynx, ovarian cancer, Hodgkin’s non- some-thing-or-other-lymphoma, and multiple myeloma, to be exact. Not to mention: breast cancer, breast cancer, breast cancer.
It’s always the same routine. They tell me over the phone, in a casual tone of voice best used to report a cavity. They’re trying to be kind, they don’t want to shock.
I choke up. They wait patiently for me to recover my composure. They are gentle with me, and yes, patient. They know what’s coming next.
I don’t cry. I ask: What stage. What’s next. And: Are. You. Doing. Complementary. Treatments. What. About. Nutrition.
They love that one. Like having to undergo chemo’s not bad enough, now they have to eat cruciferous vegetables and ground flax seed too.
Or, as my mother sometimes says before my visits. Here. Comes. Bootcamp.
I hang up the phone and cry my private tears. Then, I go online.
Yogurt. Broccolli. Garlic. Ginger. Tomatoes. Watermelon. Blueberries. Sunflower Seeds. Shitake mushrooms. Carrots.
Immune boosters. Anti-oxidants. Anti-inflammatories. I make a list, just for them and their cancer.
They humour me. They smile. They say: I’ll. Look. It. Over.. My mother allowed herself to be talked into a juicer. The Textile Artist let me cook for her. They’re still alive. The fact that they are strong, determined Slavic women with centuries of survival behind them didn’t hurt.
Another phone call, last night.
I grew up with this person. I was planning on getting old with this person in my life. This dear friend, who shrugs when I finally do cry and says, Hey, it’s like my ma likes to say. No. One. Gets. Out. Alive.
We laugh. We finish our breakfast and walk out into a soft gentle summer rain.
I’m not ready to lose this friend, not yet. Not. Yet. I chant to myself. Not yet. Not yet. Not yet.
Photos by Lydia.