When My sister passed away of leukemia at the age of 9, I was under the impression that losing someone older would be easier. There would be the comfort that they had lived a full life. But with my grandmother given 3 months to live, I am finding that I was wrong. Cancer sucks regardless of the age o the victim. Any death that is bought about prematurely is a great loss. I think of the self-inflicted cancers: throat, lung and gum. Brought on by smoking and chewing tobacco products. Now I am aware that asbestos and other elements unknown to the victim also cause these cancers, but smoking still remains the number one preventable cause of death in America. Or perhaps it is obesity. Either way, it is something that we do to ourselves. But some cancers aren’t so predictable.

Persons can eat healthy and exercise and still become sick. Whether it is a toxin or a genetic cause, there is some outside factor. There is something beyond us that causes our own body to turn against itself and begin unregulated cell growth. In a rather simplistic definition. The cells divide, grow wildly and invade nearby parts of the body. It is a reminder to us of our smallness in the face of disease. We have made progress  against polio, malaria and even AIDS, but cancer continues to stymie us. We have learned correlations and causalities but still we for the most part we simply treat symptoms and ease pain in too many instances. There are some places that we made progress. Remission rates are high for some cancers. We have tamed some cancers to treatable, minor events in people’s lives. But for the most part, it is winning. Advancing and continuing to taunt us.

That’s why I think Forrest’s mom wasn’t completely honest. Life is really like a box of chocolates, half of it isn’t worth experiencing, But it is that nugget of chocolate covered cashew that makes digging through the slimy-centered lumps. Over the next few months, I will hope to share a few of those cashews clusters about my grandmother.