There’s no question, cancer sucks! But what many don’t realize is that abortion sucks too. I’ve gone through both, and speaking only for myself here, abortion was harder for me to recover from and live with than cancer was.
I was diagnosed with colon cancer 2 1/2 years ago at the age of 38. The word cancer was so scary to me and my husband, but we instantly made phone calls and posts on our Facebook pages asking for prayers and support. We were instantly flooded with a ton of support, love and encouragement, from my family and friends, co-workers, church and support circle for which I am so incredibly thankful! And the support kept coming all the way through my surgery, chemo and beyond. More than two years later people are still asking me how I’m doing. Sometimes I forget that I’m a cancer survivor and that this very simple question has a dual meaning for me. I frequently answer how I’m doing right then in that moment, and then I remember, oh, they are probably referring to my health in their question. And then my faces changes with recognition of the full question, their face changes at my recognition, and I say in addition, something like, “Oh yes, I’m doing very well,” and then update them on my next doctor appointment or a recent test result. I can’t say enough how thankful I am for everyone’s past and ongoing support and concern for me and my health.
Cancer is scary, but it’s not something that carries with it condemnation for having it. Abortion, on the other hand, is such a tumultuous topic that asking anyone for support afterward is simply not done. When I had my abortion in 1991 I hid it from everyone, and I still had to go on with my life. I was told to take a few days off of work to recover, but because I didn’t want to lie to my dad again about why I couldn’t go to work, I went to work the next morning, at 4:30am. (I had already lied the day of the abortion about going shopping in Chicago.) I don’t know how I even got out of bed, my entire body hurt, all the way into my bones. I couldn’t move an inch, literally, without excruciating pain. But I made it to work, and I didn’t go home early. I tried to hold back tears throughout the day, unsuccessfully, and somehow no one asked me what was wrong.
Over the years as depression began to creep in, I didn’t realize at first that the cause of my sadness was my abortion. And then when I did connect the dots, I couldn’t share the cause of my pain with anyone because then I would have had to reveal that I had an abortion, so I hid the depression. Trying to talk about it with the few people who did already know about it only caused them pain, so I stopped trying. Better only one person to secretly hurt and suffer than drag others in, I thought.
It wasn’t until 16 years later in 2007 when I went to a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat and then to our local pregnancy center that I finally found that same support, love and encouragement about my abortion that I would later receive immediately for my cancer diagnosis and care. Finally, I was set free to talk about the dreaded “A” word with other people. It was very difficult to even say the word to anyone at first.
I don’t want to diminish anyone’s cancer journey in any way, and it is with the utmost respect and compassion for those lost to cancer and to cancer survivors of any type that I compare my two journeys of abortion and cancer. The Colon Cancer Alliance states that 1 in every 20 people will be diagnosed with colon cancer. According to the Guttmacher Institute, at current rates, one in 10 women will have an abortion by age 20, one in four by age 30 and three in 10 by age 45. Since Guttmacher sits at one end of this abortion debate, in order to show that both sides agree on the stats, I will also quote from another source at the other end of the debate, abort73.com, which states that, “at current rates, nearly one-third of American women will have an abortion.” This means that if you look around you at work, in your neighborhood, in church, at the grocery store, whereever you are, 1 in 3 of every woman you see has had or will have had an abortion. This is overwhelming!
Now, what about the men, the fathers of the babies who have been aborted? It is difficult to find statistics on this often overlooked, but equally big portion of the population affected by abortion. So, if we consider that men are needed to cause the pregnancies, then possibly just as many men have been and will be affected by abortion as have women. So, we can look around and again, ponder that 1 in every 3 men has had a child of theirs aborted or will in the future. The only difference here, is that they may not know, as the act could be performed without their knowledge that a child of theirs had ever even existed.
I clearly am pro-life and life affirming. I desire that women consider alternative options to abortion, especially adoption. I desire that women not be forced or coerced into an abortion decision. I would ultimately like to see the Roe v. Wade decision overturned. But in the meantime, I desire for every man and woman ever affected by abortion to seek healing from the layers of physical, emotional and spiritual trauma it has caused them. Please don’t continue to suffer alone in silence. There are many wonderful and compassionate places to reach out to, and I have listed some in my blog on Day 16.
And also, if you are 50 years old or older, please see your doctor and schedule a colonoscopy, and don’t reschedule it. I’ve shared my story with many who have told me how they’ve avoided the test or rescheduled it several times. After hearing of my diagnosis at such a young age, one of my cousins (female) and a dear friend from church (male) went immediately to their doctors, had colonoscopies, and found that they also had colon cancer, at just about the same stage as me, they had the same surgeries and courses of chemo treatment, and they are both doing well now!
Yes, cancer sucks! And yes, abortion sucks! So let’s talk about our stories and help each other and support and love each other through them.