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Dear Cancer…by Jeff Ehlers


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Dear Cancer…

May 6th, 2014 - by admin

by Jeff Ehlers

(I wrote this while I was waiting for my flight in the DC airport following the 2014 LUNGevity HOPE Summit.)

What would you say to cancer if you could send it a letter? That was the question posed to our group of lung cancer survivors at the 2014 HOPE Summit in Washington D.C. I thought about this question long and hard last night. What would I say…?

Dear Cancer,

If you were human, I would think I should feel pity for you, but I don’t. You are indeed the most wretched of all diseases. You sneak into our bodies, hiding in the shadows, masking your trail, lingering, growing, biding your time until you you’ve grown enough to stage an attack on your unsuspecting host. You sabotage our immune systems and grow fat on our resources. I have seen you face to face and know you for the devious coward that you are. I have watched you devour those closest to me and heard the stories of battles fought by others. I have added my tears to those shed by countless people over the years and faced sleepless nights wondering how you found your way into my body…and why?

Some who have had the misfortune to meet you were never able to tell their tale, never able to consider their response or even come up with a plan of attack. We mourn their loss and our rage burns against you, driving our determination to support those who have the ability to find you, hunt you down and destroy you before you can harm another of those that we hold dear. Others were blessed to find you lurking while you were small, before you had a chance to spread, and multiply and they have waged war against your forces, fighting a battle of life and death where there can only be one survivor. I have seen people encounter you for the first time frozen in fear, screaming inside, expecting the worst. You enjoy this reaction for it means that you’ve already won a good portion of the battle. The warriors who find you in time, refusing to panic or wasting effort feeling sorry for themselves, are the ones who give you the most trouble. They assemble a team, lay out a strategy, prepare, pray and pounce. They will not go down without a fight. Many have defeated you in their individual battles and stand as a beacon of hope to show others the way.

Every day that passes from the calendar marks another discovery, another theory to test, another milestone in the research community that seeks to eliminate you. Awareness develops, the message spreads and funds are assembled to advance this army of lab coat soldiers. They too seek your destruction and work tirelessly, finding triggers to turn you off, to allow the body to fight back and expose your cells for the invaders that they are. Our doctors, nurses and therapists, advocates and caregivers lock arms with us and we fight in unity for your demise.

We know that some will be lost during the battle. Wars cannot be won without casualties. With every victim you claim, we mourn the loss, cherish the memories and regroup, stronger and wiser than before. Make no mistake – our tears are not a sign of weakness. They are a symbol of the love, respect and passion each of us holds for those who have fallen and together they create a river that carries away the fear that always follows your arrival.

We are coming for you. We are strong, we are united, we are wise to your ways and make no mistake, we will find you where you hide and we will kick your *ss.


Survivors Everywhere



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