Dear Cancer

Dear Cancer,

I wanted to write a letter cursing you and erasing you from this world and from the lives of all those I love who are battling, beaten, or dead because of you. I want to shrink wrap you in mercury and let you sink to the ocean floor, never to surface again, but I can’t.  Instead, I will thank you for the gifts that you have given me since you first rocked my world 32 years ago.

Thank you for teaching me to remain curious and open in the face of fear and confusion.  When I first heard the “C –word,” I thought cancer = death.  I now know that you are an invitation to pay attention, to ask good questions, and to fight with all of our strength.  You are like a scarlet letter that beckons the world to stand up and live fully beyond a label.  When my dad first got you, the fear caused me to shrink and disappear without a sound, but since that time I have learned to look you in the eye and to accept you.  To love and engage fiercely because of you.  To challenge information with curiosity and never stop believing in the light and strength that is so much bigger than you.

Thank you for helping me to shift perspective and focus on the gift of life that we have each day that we wake up.  Thank you for teaching me about gratitude and learning to see the blessing in the trial that you invite us into.  There is something about the threat that you bring into the room that makes us notice what is most important now and what really matters so that we can let go of all of the debris and distractions that muddy up our days and cause us to suffer.  When I step into the room with someone I love who has been infected or affected by you, I take off my shoes because I know I am stepping on holy ground.  Your nasty presence helps us to cut through the BS and go straight to matters of the heart.

Thank you for giving me an opportunity to learn courage to engage the mess that you bring and move toward you with all of my heart.  To open up and be real and invite others to do the same.  Though I tremble when I hear your name, there is a voice louder than you that leads me and carries me through your pain and to a place of strength and wonder, humble beauty, and outrageous love.

Thank you for strengthening my faith muscles and helping me to fix my eyes not on what is seen and temporary, but on what is unseen and eternal.

Through my wrestling with you, I have found my story of hope and redemption.  You have shown me that heaven and earth are closer than I ever knew.

One day at the Wellness place after being face to face with 3 siblings, age 6,5, & 4 who lost their mom just 5 days prior to you, I fell to the floor and wept.  I begged for insight and I saw a rainbow bridge and heard the first line to my book: “I’m building a bridge to heaven, one little brick at a time…” I began to understand that you are actually a gift in the way you cause the people who are suffering to look up in hope that one day they will be with their loved one that you took away.  I began to understand that our friends who had to leave this world too soon, because of you, are actually reaching down to greet us through this rainbow bridge, offering light and color, beauty and delight if only we could shift our eyes to see.

Thank you for helping me learn to let go and trust that there is so much more than meets the eye.  Though you slay me, Cancer, it is very clear that you are not going away. I receive you and trust that you don’t have the final say, but you are here to make heaven and earth one and so I thank you for the painful gift and I see the light in you.

“The wound is where the Light enters.” – Rumi

Jean Masukevich is a special education and yoga teacher. She holds an advanced certificate in grief and trauma from the Allender Center of Psychology and Theology and is passionate about facilitating healing spaces for individuals and groups in need of care. Her therapeutic approach incorporates yoga, meditation, art and the use of narratives to help people integrate mind, body and Spirit. Jean loves to play outside and enjoys quality time with her husband and four awesome children. You can find her here: