I signed the check and addressed the envelope and expected a feeling of relief to wash over me. After all, the check represented a huge accomplishment. After twelve years, we had finally paid off cancer.
Paying off cancer. The hospital bills (thanks to our amazing insurance plan) had been paid long ago, of course, but the consumer debt took far longer to pay off because it’s not something that people plan for.
My laundry list of expenses could be exchanged for a list of expenses for a luxurious vacation—only there’s no luxury where cancer is concerned. Plane tickets, eating out in restaurants or hospital cafeterias, hotel rooms, clothing (I had to keep buying bigger sizes for myself and smaller sizes for Pedro), bus fare, rental cars, and train tickets. Every single expense for out-of-town treatment, and none of it enjoyable.
Cancer Doesn’t Only Strike Those Who Live Close to Medical Care
We lived over a thousand miles away from the hospital that saved his life. I lived in two worlds for almost a year. Rapid trips to San Francisco to help Pedro make decisions about treatment and be by his side as he went through chemo treatments. Working full time and parenting on my own in between.
We ended up taking out a loan against my retirement and consolidating our consumer debt in order to ‘pay off cancer.’ I mailed the final check last week, but I don’t feel particularly relieved.
I still feel as if we’re paying—but in different ways. Cancer has cost more than missed work, hospital bills and a few minor lingering effects. Our daughters have had a more difficult time in their teen years than we ever would have wanted them to have. Despite the miracle of their dad’s recovery, they suffer from the trauma of the violence of his illness and the uncertainty of the days when his life hung in the balance.
But cancer has paid us well, too. We live with a sense of purpose—God spared Pedro’s life—now what will we do with the miracle? We have learned how to face tough times together and come out stronger. We know about the fragility of the gift of life, and we treasure each moment our family has each other. And we know without a doubt that Jesus paid a bigger debt on Calvary.
Has any kind of cancer ever entered your life?