10 men, their faces staring at one another as we sit in a circle telling one another about what cancer we were/are diagnosed with. “Lung cancer stage 3, never smoked a day in my life”. - “Colon cancer have been through three session of chemotherapy and starting radiation next week.” – “Pancreatic cancer have been going through treatment for the past 6 months but they say not much more they can do.” Rectal, Prostate, Leukemia, Lymphomas, Melanoma, the list goes on. We are like football players on TV announcing what position we play and what college we attended. “My name is Vic – stage 3 colon cancer being treated at Yale medical”.
But what seemed somewhat surreal about this moment is that here we were, most of us strangers to one another sharing our inner thoughts about our fears, our families our careers. All this happening in the first 30 minutes of the meeting. Laughter emanating from the group as we shared our stories of not being able to swallow meat or must wear a colostomy bag to go to the bathroom. We quickly had bonded and a kindred spirit among us had formed.
How strange and beautiful it was. We all were one. The machinist from Bridgeport, the teacher from New Haven, The hedge fund manager from Greenwich. None of that mattered. Cancer made us see beyond our social, economic, religious and political lines. That which defines us in our society and that which so much of our nation’s problems stem from. Cancer had become the great equalizer.