This week was girls night out. My oldest granddaughter, her friend, my daughter and I, saw the movie, The Fault in our Stars. My granddaughter and I, both bookworms, had read this incredible young adult novel and NY Times bestseller, beforehand. I’m a huge movie buff, but, if given a choice of reading a story, or seeing it on the big screen, I’ll always pick the book. I love words and the freedom to interpret the pictures they paint in my head. Movies, while entertaining, generally, leave little room for imagination. The screenwriters often distill the characters, quotes, and dialog; stripping the essence and pieces of the story that profoundly touch us in written form. Not so with this movie. It was a weep and wisdomfest.
At first, I recoiled when I heard it was a “cancer book”. I wasn’t so sure I was up for yet another story, and an intimate revisit to all the emotions that walking with loved ones through cancer, might conjure up; especially kids with cancer. Two things strike dread and an intense dislike in my heart; The Corporate Cancer Machine, and Insurance Companies. Not to step on any toes here, but, they both appear to be big compassionless businesses, which do not really have the best interest of others in doing their job to protect and save human lives. It’s all about the money. Cancer breeds jobs and mega bucks as rapidly as its cells multiply in a human body. Insurance companies get richer denying and fighting claims which promote a return to good health. The FDA and other government agencies follow closely behind on my list. Do they intentionally slow progress of discoveries, by hanging on tight to potential new treatments and cures with a cloaked agenda, pretending to protect? Protect people who are already dying: From what? Living?
The Cancer Corporation will tell you it’s complicated. So is the internet, cell phones, skyping, curing polio, and sending people into space. Someone figured it out in just a few decades. When all is said and done, I hope the public becomes weary of handing over the reigns of this disease to government entities who keep us from the hope and possibility of clinical trials with their excuses. Who says protocols need to be tested for ten years before they grant golden permission for them to be used. Do you suppose if big drug companies stopped funding political candidates for public office, we might step up the pace to researching some of the new thought processes and holistic healing? What if it turns out to be as simple as what we are putting into our body to feed its living cells? Wait, isn’t the esteemed FDA protecting us from life threatening foods? Surely, the twelve unpronouncable chemicals listed on the label on the back of our food, is safe? It’s got the stamp of approval on it’s packaging! How many people would be jobless if we learned the key was boosting, supporting, and training our glorious, God given form to use our own immune system to chase away the bad cells? Instead, we kill off those beautiful saviour cells with poisons and burn up ravaged organs. No wonder in the past we called it The War on Cancer. Destruction and annihilation to protect us from annihilation? It’s not working. There just aren’t enough victors using our old methods for this many years.
However, The salve on my burning anger was this beautiful story of two teenagers, who were wiser about life and love than many with 90 years of existence etched on their memorial stone. Cancer and medicine may currently hold the controls in deciding who lives, and who dies, but the human spirit is a mysterious, eternal, old thing. It seems to intuitively step up to the plate with its bag of tricks, reminding us what’s important. Compassion for others, friends and family, and love. Fruits of the spirit can’t be destroyed by illness or chemo drugs. The love story left my daughter and I heaving and sobbing in our theater seats, embarrassing the young teens with our outward displays of vicarious grief. Something I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older, there are many different levels of love. The kind of love that puts another person first, seems the holiest and most rare. It not only makes the common days, uncommon, it brands its legacy onto your heart. You know you’ve been blessed, and you carry it with you for those times when your grief is a ten.
As the male heroine, Augustus Waters says to his beloved, “Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.” There isn’t much one can add to his sentiment. Cancer can take a life. What it can’t take away or change, is your capacity to give, your courage to carry on another day, and your hope for better days ahead, I pray my grief reveals all the gifts and love my family members bequeathed to me when they departed their cancer weary bodies. I know that’s the best way I can carry on their legacy and honor their lives.
I will now never be able to lay in the summer grass and get lost in the stars without the words of Hazel Grace buzzing in my ears. “Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.” For me, for now, that just has to be enough and I am grateful and blessed to have known them.
Becky can reached at firstname.lastname@example.org