Don't pay lip service to cancer, help fight against it | Midweek Musings

HELP: Father Brendan Lee says we can support those with cancer with our presence and our presents.
HELP: Father Brendan Lee says we can support those with cancer with our presence and our presents.

About two months ago at the pub one evening, a mate casually asked me, "how long have you had that thing on your lip?"

I felt my lip as I said, "what thing?".

He suggested if "it" was still there in a week to have it checked out.

I went to the water closet in the pub later that night and stared at my lips in the mirror.

I couldn't see anything different about them.

What are lips supposed to look like?

I'd never taken a close look at my lips before in my whole life, so I didn't know what my lips usually looked like and I felt weird staring at them.

Anyway, I pushed my lips together in front of the mirror and "puckered up" as maybe he'd seen something under my lip.

After finding nothing but awkwardness, I got out of there quick before someone came in and saw a priest staring in the mirror and puckering up to himself.

I waited a few weeks and then messaged a doctor friend of mine I'd heard worked in a cancer clinic every blue moon.

I asked him to look at it.

I always feel guilty asking mates to do things for me in the hope of getting things done at "mates rates" but I do it anyway.

The thing is, I almost didn't get "it" checked out and only did it to placate my mate at the pub.

It's a good thing I did.

The thing on my lip, I never saw, was a melanoma.

To the best of my knowledge and diary, "it" could have happened only days before the night at the pub when my lips felt slightly sore driving back from Sydney into a mild mid-September sunset.

"Then why didn't you get "it" checked out straight away in case it was melanoma, you fool?" is what I'm hearing you muse.

It briefly crossed my mind.

But, as I said to myself each time after I was booked for speeding, called up for jury duty, and abducted by aliens: I always thought this sort of thing happened to someone else.

Okay, one of those three didn't happen. But I did think this sort of thing happens to someone else, and sadly, it does, and to so many.

How do we speak of a subject so sensitive and yet, so rampant in our otherwise lucky country?

How do we speak of something that has taken so many innocent lives that its very name has become synonymous with the most descriptive of tragedies and fears and even become synonymous with itself?

At other times, we dare not even speak its name.

There is a tendency for those of us who are happy to avoid the sad, for the rich to avoid the poor, and worst of all, for the healthy to avoid the sick.

Every year, so many Australian mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, wives, husbands and friends are diagnosed, and even die from it.

Can it get any worse?

Cancer can. Children are diagnosed with it, and children even die from it.

I think perhaps life's most ridiculous proclamation is: things can't get any worse.

This is usually said by someone in a comedy just before a piano falls on their head.

No matter how bad things get in life, things can always get worse.

There is a tendency for those of us who are happy to avoid the sad, for the rich to avoid the poor, and worst of all, for the healthy to avoid the sick.

As a woman diagnosed with "it" and increasingly neglected by her friends said to me last year, "if you want to find out who your friends are Father, get cancer!"

However, things can always get better. How? We can support those with cancer with our presence and our presents.

We are never so strong that we don't need the support of friends.

Even Jesus recognised and blessed the moral support of friends the day before he died, saying, "you are those who have stood by me in my trials".

If it didn't matter, he wouldn't have commented.

We can also support with our presents.

Cancer research and even treatment are still very expensive.

Financially get behind cancer fundraising events.

Might I suggest you get behind Matt Kean and the Riverina Melanoma Ride 2021.

Matt had melanoma and suffered far more than a spot on the lip, but he's still with us.

Please don't pay lip service to cancer.

Help the loving fight against it.

Twitter: @frbrendanelee