Dear Cancer

Dear cancer,

I am not sure I really I want to talk to you. You took my Emilee, almost three months ago. Before that, you took my mom, with uterine cancer, 16 years ago. And Emilee’s friend who lived with breast cancer for five years, one of my brother’s friends when he was 25, it is a long list.

Emilee had pancreatic cancer. You really are a nasty F***. Yes I made that word into a noun just for you. And it really doesn’t even do you justice. As a matter of fact, it is just wasted on you.

I could try a mindfulness technique, and embrace you. I will have to work on that one, as the thought right now is making my skin crawl.

There is some part of me, which I do my best not to acknowledge, that is scared of you. I took care of my wife Emilee for 21 months after diagnosis, and watched her body…I watched her body, what is that word that starts with a “c”, now I must look it up…cachectic…I watched her body become cachectic.

I watched her wither. Her body withered, but her spirit….oh my god, she was so strong. She withstood chemo treatments to try to slow you down, so she could keep on living. Poisoned her body, to buy time. Precious, precious time.

It worked for a while. She lived to see two new grandchildren. And two days before her last day she got to hold her one month old grandson, and 19 month old granddaughter.

You extinguished her life in the end, but not her light. Her light was so much stronger than you. This was not a battle that you won.


You see, you died when her body died. Emilee’s light lives on in me, and I am spreading that light to the world. With every beat of my heart I share that pulse of life that I carry from her.

I tell her story and share the beauty that she was and that radiated from her, and I reach out to connect with other souls who also carry torches of their loved ones.

So you took a body, as you take many bodies, but you get no souls. You have no soul. I pity your repeated task of multiplying cells which results in your own death.

I am starting to feel sorry for you because you are so pitifully clueless as to what life really is. It is not a runaway blob of diseased malfunctioning replicating tissue which cannot control itself.

Life is the fighters, the survivors, the loved ones that carry scars from you but find meaning in living and spread the word that love goes on. Love is what sustains those with cancer, those who survive cancer and those that carry on when their loved ones vibrate to another plane of existence.

Emilee’s love lives on in all those she touched with her love, and in all the hearts they touch in turn. The “pebble in the water ripple effect”. Circles expanding out from the center having far reaching impact.

I don’t want to be angry, I want to be compassionate and feel and spread love and joy.

I am not a violent person, but sometimes, I want to stomp cancer’s brains out. That is okay, right? Just breathe…just breathe.

Life after Emilee … 21 months after pancreatic cancer diagnosis, Emilee left for greener pastures.

I’d like to think of it as vibrating to a higher plane. I read that many years ago in one of Carlos Castenada’s books.

Emilee was worried that I would be okay after she died, but we only talked about it once. I said I would be okay after a while. Truth is, I had no idea how I would be. I tried not to think about it. I am not sure if talking before she died would have helped, but I am sure it would not have hurt. But, I am not sure anything could have prepared me for what it feels like to lose a spouse to cancer.

Neal Klein
Life After Emilee, on the loss of my wife to pancreatic cancer. I’m not accepting comments right now but please feel free to get in touch via my Contact page.