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To the Scientists Who Told the World They Had a Cure for Cancer, From a Cancer 'Survivor'


Dear Israeli cancer researchers,

When you told the world that you thought you’d have a cure for cancer within a year, you really screwed with my head. So much so that a week later, I’m still thinking about it.

Life as a cancer “survivor” isn’t easy. I live every day in pain from the side effects of my treatment, and I constantly worry about recurrence. So does every other person I know who has been through it — and those are just the survivors. There are people, thousands upon thousands of people, who live with cancer every day, praying for a miracle like the one you promised.

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When you tell the world that you think you’ll have a cure for cancer, you gave all of us hope. Hope that we could stop worrying about death. Hope that our lives might not be cut short, and that we’d live long enough to travel, see decades more Thanksgivings, and meet our grandchildren. You gave parents who have children with cancer hope that their kids won’t die far, far too young.

When I read the news, I finally had hope that I wouldn’t need to spend the next 10 years of my life on heavy-duty medication, suffering from horrible side effects. I had hope that I might be out of a job (I create products to help families emotionally cope with cancer treatment). I hoped and prayed that my work had been for nothing, and that no family would ever have to suffer through a parent or child’s cancer diagnosis and treatment.

But then. Then the news came out that you probably don’t have a cure for cancer, or even the hope of a cure. And that was awful. I couldn’t figure out why I was depressed for a week until I realized I’d been on an emotional rollercoaster, all thanks to you.

And now, I have to return to my life post-cancer, trying to figure out how to live with the uncertainty of my survival. I’ve never dealt with the unknown well, and cancer is the ultimate test in learning to cope with it. For a moment, I thought I might be able to avoid it, going back to my carefree life before cancer, when I was a 34-year-old who took a long life for granted.

Please think about us — all of the millions of people who have been touched by cancer — before you make proclamations like that. They hurt.

Image Credits: Sara Olsher