To The Fifteen Million,

I write this letter to acknowledge each of the fifteen million Americans impacted by cancer.  I know that no matter who stands at your side, you walk out your cancer story, alone and feel the weight of every step.

I write to each person whose body has been altered by cancer treatments: bald, scarred, weakened, removed, made bare, in weight loss and weight gain, in loss of sensation and heightened sensation.  I write to those whose hearts are broken.  I write to those who struggle because of the surrender of dreams, expectations and a future.  I write to those who ask, “Can I do this?”.  I write to those whose loved ones and friends have turned away from you because of this great burden.  I write to those who have been ignored in their pain.  I write to every parent who must look upon the face of your child with uncertainty.

Beyond the nine million, I write to those who have stood beside us.  I write to those whose loving gaze have never changed despite the constant changes we go through.  I write to those who quietly sit at our sides in a chemo room, without words but full of love.  I write to anyone who has rushed to an ER, or picked up our children when we receive an unexpected call from an oncologist.  To anyone who has loved our children as your own.  To every imaging tech who held our hand.  To every oncologist who cried when delivering bad news. I write to every child who must look upon the face of your parent with uncertainty.

You are not alone.

I know you feel isolated, but we have been broken together. Though hair grows back, wounds no longer bleed, and strength returns, our sorrow remains.

I know it feels like you are alone but I stand with you.

I acknowledge your pain, your loss, your brokenness.

I acknowledge that though your days reflect life before cancer, you have been forever changed.

When treatments don’t work, I stand with you.

When treatments make you irrational, I stand with you.

When you can’t verbalize your fears, I stand with you.

When your strength returns and mine does not, I stand with you.

You are not alone. I know pain.  I know isolation.  I know rejection.  I know brokenness and I acknowledge yours.

This October when the world seems to turn pink, and the commercialization of your pain makes you feel more forgotten than ever, know that you are not alone.  Pink is a person not a product.

I acknowledge you.

Sincerely,

Lauren

a young mother with stage four breast cancer