Kiss and Cry - Nipples to Kneecaps

I watched a movie today called Kiss and Cry about 17 year Carley Allison and her battle with throat cancer which returned and spread to her lungs. She died at 19. Yes, a little part of me wonders how we would have reacted if, after a few years, Steve's cancer had returned, but then a bigger part of me remembers our plan and what he did, what we learned. Some, when they read Steve' s story will say we were just lucky, one in a billion, it was a fluke. Hell, we have even had a doctor recently say,

'Are you sure you had cancer?'

He sure apologized when he saw Steve's X-rays and records. In fact, he looked at him with a mixture of amazement and respect. Watching Kiss and Cry I couldn't help but notice the similarities. I was an ice skater and I love to sing. Steve too had terminal cancer and was given three months to live. His cancer was also rare. In the 1980's the chemo treatment was brutal, perhaps even more lethal than today's targeted and more sophisticated chemo.

However, I recognized something else in the movie. Something that Steve and I have both seen or sensed in cancer patients who go on to die.

As a result of our journey with cancer we tend to intuit, on meeting most cancer patients, who will live and who will die. Not something I always like to feel, but that's the reality.

I greatly admire all those battling with cancer. I greatly admire all those who arrive at the point of saying or knowing, 'This is it. It's my time to move on. Cancer will be the disease that takes me to my next life whatever that may be.' Carley Allison was one such brave girl who left her mark, an unforgettable impression on those around her - she made a huge difference to people's lives. She will, I am sure be very much missed by her family.

I greatly admire those, like Steve, who decide, 'Hell no! For whatever reason I have cancer, but it's not my time and I will beat this once and for all despite the odds and the expectations of others. I will keep going until I am well again! I have stuff to do. I have not finished with this life yet!' This is not to say that those who die from cancer did not want to live, to be with their families or continue to experience life in this form - of course they did! And, at some point we all die, but for Steve and this group cancer survivors, cancer was not to be their vehicle to the next life. They still have to fight very hard for it though, especially if the doctors say they have less than three months to live and there is not hope.

So, any help we can give to those people who decide to battle on and beat it, I am happy to give. It is for them that I published Nipples to Kneecaps - to die or not to die with cancer. It's an inspiring story but also has a Beat Cancer Plan in the appendix.

When my dad was told he had cancer I knew that, at first, he wanted to be like Steve and fight it, but after his colostomy bag he said, "Well, we both know how this is going to end." Dad was 83, had lived a great life full of love and laughter. When he was in his seventies he told me he was tired. He was struggling with his breathing due to fibrosis of the lungs as a result of working in a foundry as a young man and now he had bowel cancer.

At some point us humans die. We leave our mortal bodies and pass on to another form of existence. My dad was ready. His only concern was my mother who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. We were with my dad when he passed. It is still one of my most treasured memories. My mother, no less than four years later, has no memory of the life she had with her beloved Charlie. They were married for over sixty years. I believe Alzheimer's gave her a gift. If she could remember my dad I know she would be so unhappy and full of tears that he was no longer at her side. It's like the Alzheimer's protects her from that deep sorrow and pain. I still wish she didn't have that disease but she has accepted it as her passage out of this life, so I accept that it will teach us both a great deal before her time is up.

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