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I Have Cancer
Despite the horror of a cancer diagnosis, Judy Bastin finds courage in the support of family and friends.

By Judy Bastin

Last week I was diagnosed with kidney cancer. It sounds so common, like the doctor just told me I have a cold.

It wasn't that long ago that people only whispered about it. It is still difficult to actually say, "I have cancer." Every time I think about it, which, is so often my mind keeps exploding with just one word. What? How can I have cancer? Other people get cancer and I get to feel sorry for them. I don't get cancer.

I've had so many different responses from friends I've told. Some say, "Just focus on today. Don't think about it." How can I not think about it? I have cancer for Christ sake. Other friends say, "Well, at least you have another kidney." So what? I have cancer! Are they trying to make themselves or me feel better? I can't just say to them, "But, I have cancer." Somehow that sounds so hollow in the face of the profound statements they believe they've just made. Like what they said will make everything bad go away.

I was laying down yesterday afternoon reading. My partner came in, flopped down sideways on the bed, rested her head in the palm of her hand and asked, "How are you feeling emotionally?" It was like someone opened all the windows in the house on a beautiful sunny spring blown day. I didn't realize I was keeping it all in.

Both my brother and my best friend have said they'll give me their kidneys. I'm so fortunate to have a brother and a best friend. Forget about what they say they'll do for me.  

I told my friend who's been battling thyroid cancer for years of my illness. She said, "Hey, that's life! Let's go get some lunch and talk."

How fortunate I am to have people such as these in my life. I've asked myself a few different times over the last week if I knew I was going to die tomorrow how would I feel. I'm always answered by one word, "courageous."

With a Perspective, I'm Judy Bastin.

Judy Bastin is a writer, gardener and dog lover.

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