I have been irked by an image circulating facebook recently. It is not because I don't admire the sentiment behind it, and it is in support of a fantastic fundraising effort for a charity dear to my heart, but basically I don't think it is true. I am a fan of positive thinking and messages of hope but this one does not sit easily with me. Cancer can do many of the things this statement claims it cannot. I feel compelled to re-write.
Here is the original (from the Dawn French website facebook page - incidentally not Dawn French herself, but the page of a fan which could easily be confused):
I am glad the writer of this was not there the evening before my seven-hour operation to tell me cancer cannot silence courage. I am glad the writer was not there for my second dose of chemo to tell me cancer cannot conquer the spirit. And yet...
These were moments in time. If the writer had been with me throughout, they may have learnt a thing or two about hope, love, courage and spirit. So, for what it is worth, my alternative take on this poem:
What Cancer Can Do
It can challenge your Faith - but you may find your Faith grows stronger
It can shatter your Hope - but rarely beyond repair
It can cripple love - but also deepen it
It can make it hard to find Peace - but when you find it you feel even more blessed
It can lose you friends - but gives you an even greater appreciation of your true friends who have supported you
It can suppress memories - but you will probably find this is a side effect of chemotherapy drugs and is a transient phenomenon
It can change how courageous you are - sometimes on a minute-by-minute basis
It can knock your spirit and invade your soul, but again it can make you stronger. Take heart and learn from those who show us how to live well through difficult times. Accept help.
It can take you down roads you had expected to travel. This is not necessarily a bad thing.
It may or may not do any of these things. Cancer presents itself in many different forms, is caught at different stages, responds differently to treatment depending on the individuals affected. No-one can tell you what cancer will or will not do to you until it happens.