The noun “casualties” often refers to people killed in a war or seriously affected by some extraneous situation. Cancer is certainly in the latter category, especially if one dies from it.
I am not in that position, but I still think of some of the casualties of my diagnosis. With due respect to dictionaries, I’d like to broaden the definition.
A casualty is a deep personal loss. For me, losing almost seven months of my regular life to dealing with breast cancer is a casualty. At 73, I have more years behind me than ahead; and I want to live every day of them how I want and not governed by some medical situation.
Some would say I’m silly, since I’ve had wonderful care and seem to be on top of this round of cancer. I couldn’t agree more, but it’s still taken precious time away. I haven’t gone swimming since this all started; that’s a casualty. I haven’t spent many days where my cancer routine wasn’t front and center; that’s a casualty. And I haven’t even started on the five-year effort to become “cancer-free.”
I have cancelled trips, reduced my activities, and hired others to do things I normally did with little effort. I have a personal chef to supplement what’s in my freezer, a cleaning lady who means more to me than ever, a husband who is chief dishwasher and launderer, and friends who spur me to keep going.
If this blog sounds grumpy, it isn’t meant to be. Rather, it’s meant to note that even those of us who are flourishing with our cancer treatments still feel deep personal losses in many ways. If you’re one of us, nod your head. It’s okay to feel this way.