Hazel

If you’ve just been diagnosed with cancer… just get you some hugs, get a lot of hugs… If you can get some hugs and them first, that gives you the strength to go on and start this fight. You may cry, but if you get enough hugs, enough so that laughter comes in, they tell us that makes the endorphins change. And when the endorphins change, they start fighting the cancer cells before you even get started… So my body goes to acting silly – get me a funny video, movie, something, it’s time to laugh, it’s time to get them to change their directions! Mostly everybody, people who never laughed before – make them laugh, their endorphins change right before your eyes.

Most of the time, most of us get left alone… My boyfriend left me. “You didn’t die”, that’s what he told me – I didn’t die. He was 72 years old, can you imagine that? [Big laugh.] Said, “Cause you was supposed to die, girl. You ain’t gonna die, might as well leave you and go get me another one!” 

Everybody that really knows me, they support me, they support me whether I talk to them, whether we see each other or not… The friends I really love, we can just hold hands. Just look at each other and giggle… We don’t have to say one word. It’s amazing! But when we do, we never offend each other, regardless, if one of us makes a mistake and cusses – which I’m usually the one – it’s okay. 

I grew up where there was talk of racism all the time… Now I just don’t see things that way anymore… Some of my prejudices have changed since cancer. Because cancer somehow made everything colorless. It’s not colorblind, it’s color-less…. We have a group, it’s a writing group with cancer people, and in that group there’s so many different cultures … So, I’m beginning to see things, since cancer, as different… Everybody’s okay.

Cancer made me look at everything that happens to me in life different. Everything. I changed my views on death because I’m not afraid anymore. Patience – hoowee! – taught me how to be patient, how to see things a different way. 

Cancer teaches you, if you listen. And most of us start listening.