Tomorrow is Daffodil Day. A day of fundraising for the Cancer Council of Australia to "to help support Cancer Council's research, prevention and support services for patients and their families" (http://daffodilday.com.au/cancer-australia).
I didn't really used to think about cancer. It seemed like it was a distant concept that had nothing to do with me. In 2004, my Aunt aged 33, was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was in my last year of high school and I had finished my HSC. I had all this free time. It was spent going with my Aunt to and from doctors' appointments for tests and appointments. She had a biopsy performed to check if the tumour in her breast was actually cancer and I was in the room with her. She didn't want to be alone. She was scared. And I regret not being able to hold her hand at that time.
It was an odd summer day when we found out she had cancer. My uncle, her husband, returned first from the Doctor's office to where we were waiting and said simply, "She has it." My Aunt returned a little after, dabbing her face with tissues and sat with us. Her phone kept ringing and she just ignored call after call.
She had so many operations and stays in hospitals. She had a metal rod put in her leg, she had a mastectomy, chemotherapy, she had seizures. The cancer had spread from her breast to her bones to her brain. And it was sad. She was so positive and she believed in God and miracles and she prayed.
She spent time in a hospice in the last few weeks of her life. She spent her last birthday there. She was full of drugs of some sort and seemingly out of it. She was transferred back to a hospital where she was in a coma for the most part.
On 23rd April 2009 my cousin called me to say that the doctor believed that she would not stay much longer. All the family came to visit in the hospital. She was not conscious, just a body in the room, still alive but not living. My cousin had been spending the last few months living with my Aunt and taking care of her. I watched my cousin clean my Aunt's teeth and talk with familiarity with the nurses. My Aunt's two little children, aged 9 and 6 at the time, went in to say their last goodbyes.
And then, early in the morning of 25th April she went. There was another call from my cousin around 1am of 25th April and we all headed to the hospital to see her. I kept on thinking, she must have waited for everyone to see her before she left. The timing was spooky. What if we hadn't all said goodbye? What if we hadn't said "If this is too hard, then you can go. It's ok." What if we had sad, "Stay." But then, what kind of life could she have had? She was in pain and drugged up all the time. It would be selfish of us to keep her here. She once said that she didn't want anyone to tell her to go. Her mother, my grandmother, was in hospital because of cancer too. My other Aunt had said to their ill mother something along the lines of "It's okay if you want to go". But then, I wonder if it works that way.
My dad is currently scheduled for an operation to remove the lower left part of his lung. The doctor said that he's more than 50% sure that it's cancer. His opening words to us at the appointment were something along the lines of "It's probably cancer." I'm hopeful that once it is removed, whatever it is, that it'll be the end of it. That if it is cancer, it hasn't spread. It seems like removal of it is not urgent and that hopefully in the time before the operation, it hasn't spread either. I don't think I've said but my dad is the only parent I have left. I've wishing so hard that this operation is all he needs to be healthy again.
So, when fundraising days like Daffodil Day come around I try to do my part because it's not such a distant concept that has nothing to do with me. According to the Daffodil Day website "1 in 2 Australians will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85." Statistically speaking, someone you know will be affected by cancer. Tomorrow, and if you can any other time, please do what you can. Every little bit helps.