Losing someone is always hard. No matter how you’ve lost them, whether you’ve drifted apart or they’ve sadly passed away, it is always going to be extremely difficult. Unfortunately it’s just something that everyone has to go through. Not everyone has to go through cancer though.
In some ways, losing someone to cancer can be harder because you have something real to blame. With old age, it can be easier to accept that everyone gets old. However with cancer, not everyone faces it and it can take people you love from you far too soon. It’s a horrible disease, and sadly, there isn’t yet a cure.
There are more than 200 types of cancer and the four most common types of cancer, particularly in the UK, are breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer and bowel cancer. More than 1 in 3 people will experience some form of cancer in their lifetime and in 2014 163,444 people died of cancer in the UK alone. You hear of people dying of cancer on the news whether it’s a celebrity or an ordinary little boy like Bradley Lowery and you think ‘that’ll never happen to me or someone I know.’ The thing is, it happens to more people than you realise and it could well happen to you.
In 2013, my Grandpa was diagnosed with skin cancer. He had a huge lump on his neck than kept getting bigger and bigger and after a biopsy, it was diagnosed as cancer. They surgically removed it and we thought everything was okay – but then the lump started to grow again. The cancer was still there. In March 2014, they decided they would start chemotherapy on 9th April. Sadly, my Grandpa passed away in hospital on 8th April. I was absolutely devastated. I couldn’t stop crying for hours. It was heartbreaking and I had truly never felt anything remotely similar to the pain I felt at that time. I had no idea how I was going to get past it. But I did get past it – it wasn’t easy by any means and the pain doesn’t just disappear but you learn to live with it. I’m going to tell you some of the things that may help you to deal with the loss.
Firstly, I didn’t go and see my grandfather after he’d passed away. I think that was the best thing I could have done. I had already said goodbye in the hospital and I didn’t feel the need to go and see him again. I saw my Nan after she passed away because I was with her when she died and though it wasn’t traumatic, it was deeply upsetting because she wasn’t my Nan anymore. Her soul had gone so she just seemed like an empty shell. It would have been the same with my Grandpa and looking back, I’m glad I didn’t go. It’s different for every person – some people have to go and see them for closure. I think that if you do wish to go and see someone who has passed away under any circumstances but particularly cancer, you need to be fully prepared for how different they will look from when they were healthy and alive.
Also, remember that cancer doesn’t define them. When you talk about them, they aren’t just that person that died from cancer. They were your nan, your brother, your mum, your aunt, your cousin , your best friend – they meant and still mean something to you, despite the cancer. Yes, their death is a part of them but it isn’t all of them. They’re more than cancer.
On the topic of talking about them, do talk about them. It ensures that their memory and their life lives on with your words and the words of people close to you. It will be hard at first and there’s a good possibility you will tear up or start to cry and that’s okay. Crying is okay – crying is good. Over time, you won’t cry but instead smile as you remember them. Talking about them will become natural. I still talk about my Grandpa to this day and I smile as I remember all the fun we had when he was alive. He will always live on and that won’t ever change.
Finally, as I said earlier, the pain will fade. It won’t disappear and it will always be there but time is a great healer. You learn to deal with the pain and it gets easier once you accept and embrace it. We hurt to know we’re aIive; humans are meant to hurt. Even with the hurt, we get back up on our feet
and we carry on. That’s what we’re supposed to do, no matter how hard it is. It will take time, different lengths of time for each person, but eventually it will happen for you. You are much stronger than you realise and this pain will help you grow as a person.
Never give up fighting
Teenagers With Experience is an online platform ran by teenagers for teenagers. We provide support through sharing our own experiences and providing advice based from this. If you need support, feel free to reach out to us on one of our social media platforms. We will do our best to support you and if we feel we cannot we will direct you to more suited, professional support.