I said a bad word. I cursed. I did. In the middle of my last post I said F Cancer. I apologize. That’s an awful word, the F word. So offensive. The most offensive word I could think of to say.
But the thing is, even the most offensive word that I can think of does not come close to capturing how I feel about cancer.
Do you know anyone with cancer? Have you ever lost someone that you really love to cancer? Do you have cancer?
If you can answer yes to any of these, then you understand what I meant when I said – F Cancer!!! If you haven’t, God bless you. I hope that you never have any up close encounters with cancer. It’s horrible.
I know someone who has cancer. Qiyana. My sister and my friend. She has metastatic breast cancer and she’s not even 30. The doctors say that she will be on chemo for the rest of her life.
I want to know what God says.
Qiyana doesn’t let cancer define her. She is so much more than that terrible disease. She is a humanitarian. And a teacher. She loves children and is passionate about them. She’s also a little militant. My style.
She was telling me recently how she doesn’t say the pledge of allegiance at her school. She teaches in the Willingboro, NJ school district and the school is over-crowded; she works in a classroom that was meant to be a storage room.
“The classroom has no windows, Kim….That’s like setting the kids up to go to prison.”
I can’t imagine what it’s like to be in a classroom with no windows, especially since I was the kid that was always looking out of the window. Day dreaming about what I could be; where I would go. It is so important for children to dream.
Qiyana says that she is not going to say the pledge until they figure out these discrepancies; these macro-inequities. I don’t blame her. I wouldn’t either.
Qiyana is also passionate about family. She has the biggest family that I’ve ever met. And I swear she is always introducing me to new family members. I can’t keep it straight. But I get it. Some are family in blood. Others are family in love. She calls me her sister now. so that means that I’m family too, that’s pretty cool. I always wanted a big family. And a sister.
But back to that horrible word I said. The F word. I actually prayed about it.
And I got a nod.
I was at Qiyana’s house two Sunday’s ago. I asked her if I could help with anything around the house; she is always turning down my offers to help. But this time she said, there is one thing…
“Can you help me fold my clothes and hang them up?”
She had a pile of clean clothes on her bed. She didn’t have the energy to put them away. The Dr. increased her dosage of chemo that week. Her hair is falling out again.
As I helped my sister sort her clothes. Hang some on hangers and fold others in drawers, I fought back tears. There we were in her dimly lit apartment doing this simple task that most people take for granted, and all I could think was:
Sorry. I did it again. I cant help it. I just hate cancer so much.
When I was a little girl I had a 40 year old friend named Pat; Pat was my babysitter and my friend. We used to sit at the kitchen table and drink English tea and have conversation. We also enjoyed watching All My Children together. On the soap opera, women would slap their husbands and say: “I hate you.” I asked Pat, “What does it mean to say you hate someone?” Pat said “It means you wish they were never born.” Well that made perfect sense to me. I would spend the rest of my life being careful about who I said I hated.
But I can say that I hate cancer. I wish it was never born.
I mean, what is it? And where did it come from? Why haven’t we always had it? And why are there some countries with no reported cases?
I hate what cancer does to people: Families. Children. Spouses. Friends…
Qiyana says that she thinks that people who die from cancer die because they get tired. tired of the chemo and radiation and surgeries and pain; I believe her. My aunt died of liver cancer in February 2010. The last time that I saw her (in December) she said: “I’m tired.”
Qiyana’s not tired. She says over and over: “I’m just not going to get tired. I can’t get tired.”
Don’t get tired, Qiy. Please don’t get tired.
She has an incredible attitude.
Qiyana Brown passed away on May 22, 2011. That was her 28th Birthday. She had a chance to read this before she passed and for that I am grateful. Before she passed her best friend, Pierre Coleman, produced a documantary about her journey with cancer, click here to see the film online:
Qiyana’s homegoing was beautiful, complete with a horse drawn carraige that carried her white casket through the streets of Newark. Qiyana is free now… free from the horrible disease. Rest in Peace my sister.
Qiyana R. Brown 5/22/83 – 5/22/11
© Copyright Thank You Very Sweet, 2011