By Joe Riley
During the last four years, few people wanted to hear about cancer or how it he was affecting me emotionally, physically or the trauma in my mind.
They wanted to hear about hope, courage, and positivity, not about how you struggle with knowing this is a cancer that does not go away. However, you tend to look at life differently if you want to survive, and you learn to live well while dying.
I don’t blame people for not wanting to listen before I experienced it, I wouldn’t have wanted to hear it either. The problem is there is no escape because cancer consumes you, it is there every day and your fight is not with the disease, but the fight to not let it overtake my life. The struggle to ward of depression and its consequences, the struggle to try to be positive. I am living with a deadly friend, a friend you may ask, well it has its attendant difficulties and practical realities. I often feel I should candy-coat the story for others to spare them the pain of it, though I try hard not to.
Realities are what they are and sometimes we have no wish to face the consequences of what may happen to us as mortals, it is human behavior.
Most conversations around cancer focuse on survivors and miracles, we don’t hear the stories of dying cancer patients - they are often too sick or too busy to tell them. The stories of the dead are lost. These aren’t stories filled with smiling athletes, gritty thumbs-up poses. They are, instead, about the realization that this disease will kill the storyteller and you cannot candy wrap that event.
Receiving a skin cancer diagnosis is a life-changing experience. Fear, anxiety, depression, and other emotions can run rampant, regardless of specific diagnosis and treatment options. I remember the day I was told by the specialist; you have skin cancer and it is a type that is difficult to eradicate. My wake-up call to life, and no matter where you fall on the scale, when you hear these words, the experience will be thought provoking and life changing. So far I have had four operations, and as of this writing, am about to go into hospital for my fifth operation…