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Trying to deal with my mom’s cancer

It’s the most notorious word in the English language. It’s also the most understood word, not requiring a definition or explanation. To simply utter the word can cause fear, hatred, anger and a lifetime worth of anxiety.

Even though we all thoroughly understand and know the word, I never really knew the hideous layers of its impact until recently.

Last Friday – Friday the 13th, ironically – I found out that my mom has cancer.



It’s an announcement that attacks the knees and pounds your gut. This announcement was like a kick in the stomach. I found myself short of breath, and it was hard to swallow.

“Cancer. Cancer. Cancer.” I found myself repeating the word to myself.



I now have a deeper appreciation and much higher level of hatred for the word.

My mom is a tough, hard-nosed woman. Hard worker, seldom complains, always busy. So, when I got a call last week that Mom was in the hospital, I knew it was probably bad. I tried not to think about it but that hideous word “cancer” kept creeping into my thoughts.

Our family is approaching this with the optimistic approach. You know, the glass is half-full approach. Being positive is so important when the word cancer surfaces.

I read a bumper sticker the other day – “Mean People Suck.” That’s the happy-go-lucky attitude I’ve set my sights on. I’m aiming for a super attitude – positive, optimistic, upbeat and happy.

But once in a while all I think is that mean people do indeed suck – and so does cancer.

I hope I never find out what it’s like to be the one who has cancer. For now, all I know is that cancer impacts everyone in the family.

To watch my mom’s strength absorbed and her will tested, is something that’s also a punch in the gut. It also makes me angry. But I have no where to direct my anger. That’s another hideous attribute of cancer.

We all hate the word and the disease that is cancer, but now, I know just how much I truly despise it.

Shortly after hearing that my mom has cancer, I found myself searching for answers. I knew I wouldn’t find them.

Growing up, kids get into trouble, fall down, skin their knees and basically be kids. I remember so many times when Mom was there with a band aid, a little encouragement or just five powerful words that always meant the world to me. “Everything’s going to be OK.”

Now, my mom is in trouble, and I want so badly to say those same words. But I can’t. I don’t know if everything’s going to be OK. No one does. A band aid, a hug and words of encouragement won’t be able to fix this skinned knee.

After the initial punch in the gut, the word cancer left me dizzy and confused. I felt panicked and bewildered. I struggled to find the words to comfort my mom. I kept wanting to say “Everything’s going to be OK.” But I couldn’t. I didn’t know that it would be OK.

With all the emotions I was feeling, all I could think about was what it was doing to my mom.

My anger at this disease swelled as I saw what it did to my mom.

She was so scared, and there was nothing I could do or say to help. For all she had done for me throughout the years, I was left with no words that might help her when she needed them most.

After seeing its impact with just the announcement, I now know the true meaning of the word cancer. And I hate it. I hate it so much.

I will continue to try and be positive, optimistic and upbeat. A positive attitude is so important, and we all know that. But all I can think about for right now is what cancer is doing to my mom.

Right now, all I know for sure is that my mom has cancer, and that really sucks.

Dale Shrull is the editor for the Rifle Citizen Telegram.


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