As an avid tweeter, I recently saw something on my TimeLine that hit close to home.
Another user tweeted “One of the most beautiful things in life is to see someone fight cancer.” With a mother who has stage four, metastatic breast cancer, I couldn’t have agreed less.
I’ve seen cancer change a person. As their body fights relentlessly, I’ve seen it dwindle away. I’ve watched a healthy, muscular person shrink four sizes smaller, skin grows paler, and spirits diminish. It’s an exhausting encounter, cancer is.
It isn’t beautiful to watch someone struggle. It isn’t beautiful to see them cry in frustration. It isn’t beautiful to find chunks of hair on the pillow, their clothes. It’s many other things, but it certainly isn’t beautiful.
The person who tweeted this must never have had a near and dear relative struggle with the disease. Because cancer…cancer is difficult.
There is one moment in the fight of cancer that is truly spectacular. Beautiful, if you have a limited vocabulary and want to call it that.
As the fighter, the tired, the warrior, completes their last chemotherapy treatment at M.D. Anderson in Houston, they ring a bell. The success, the twinkle in their eye of victory- is purely indescribable. Magical, wonderful: The chime of the golden bell that signals the end of fight, is the only ‘beautiful’ moment cancer has.
That being said, I’m not saying cancer takes away the beauty of a person.
While I’ve watched it transform my mother into someone different, someone smaller, someone exhausted, it hasn’t taken away her radiating beauty. I think I’m more proud to call her my mother in her hats and scarves then I was when she had her blonde hair.
Cancer can do a lot of things. It can hurt, it can change lives, it can bury itself in the farthest reaches of a person’s body, but it cannot make them less beautiful.
The fight itself is not pretty. I disagree with the aforementioned tweet because of this point. The fight, the chemotherapy, the radiation, none of that is beautiful. Those aspects of cancer are melancholy, hard to watch and something no one ever wants to endure. The beauty lies in the person. The one who never gives up, who maintains hope, who- no hair and all- is still as stunning as they were beforehand.
Cancer is not a beautiful fight. The person fighting it, however, is.