One Battle At a Time

My daughter’s boyfriend’s mom has cancer.

Taken by itself, that’s an impersonal statement. And it may well have stayed that way. Except this woman means the world to my daughter. And that means she’s important to me.

I’ve never met her, but I’ve seen posts. Watched the video they put up on Facebook of her husband shaving her head. I thought it was very brave of her to do that, especially when you realize she seems to be doing her damndest not to cry.

As I understand it (and I hope I’m remembering the details right), she has a tumor in one lung. It hasn’t grown, but last I knew, it hadn’t responded to initial treatments, either.

But still they keep trying. Who wouldn’t, right?

They’ve put up a Facebook page called Tess’ Army, and they recently posted pictures of her undergoing both radiation and chemo treatments (in one week). There’s also a short video of her in what I’m guessing is some kind of radiation vault. The camera goes into the vault and, as it enters the room, Tess is helped off the bed.

I don’t know why, but watching that video humanized this whole cancer thing for me.

See, to me, cancer is big. I don’t mean it looms large in my life. I haven’t really had personal experience with the disease. I have an uncle who’s fought it off, but he’s over half a state away and I really didn’t see his battle. I don’t mean that in a cold way, just that it’s one of those things I think you have to see to really comprehend.

I’ve seen it, so to speak, with Tess. And I know what it means to my daughter to have this woman she thinks so much of going through this.

For me, cancer was this big, impersonal scourge that I have trouble comprehending. I don’t know the statistics, but I know it kills lots of folks every year, and plays havoc even with the survivors. Since I couldn’t grasp it, I had trouble finding meaning in it. The numbers are numbers, and they’re not easy to read. I’d like to see something done about it.

But with Tess, I see one person going through it. That brings it down to a personal level, and it occurred to me that that’s the way to beat this: one person at a time. As humans, we only have the capacity to truly care about a limited number of people. In the abstract, sure, we can say we feel for everybody out there who’s suffering from cancer. But in our everyday, practical lives, the numbers are so large as to lose their meaning.

If we can just find one person to identify with, though, that makes all the difference in the world.

So go join Tess’ Army. Or somebody else’s army. We can beat it one battle at a time. Because, really, that’s all we can fight.
One battle at a time wins the war.

For everyone.



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