The Cancer Cars
By Sheryl McAlister
They’re always there. The cancer cars.
Lined up to watch tennis or football or soccer or the band. If you didn’t know it, you’d simply think the people behind the tinted windows, inside the idling vehicles, were just overheated in the relentless Southern summer heat. Or staying warm in the cool fall air.
But inside a few of the cars I routinely see are the parents – the warriors – who fight the daily, brutal battle against an insidious disease. They are the same people who sit out in the pouring rain to watch their kids win a middle school football championship. They are the same people who, on any particular night, are too ill to venture into the stadium with other people. Instead, they stand at a fence in the corner of an end zone or pull up a chair in the parking lot to watch from a distance.
Away from the crowds that might carry the germs that would make their fight all the more brutal. As if.
To anyone who doesn’t know any better, they don’t appear to be doing anything special. To those of us who know them, we recognize the slow gait and greyish skin that are all too familiar with chemo or other cancer treatments.
They sit in the front seat of an SUV with the sun visor lowered to block the setting sun, catching a glimpse of the tennis match their child is playing. And grateful for the kindness of an understanding coach who allows them to get a little closer to the courts even though the parking spaces are reserved for school use.
They are the solitary figure in a dark corner of the football field at halftime of a high school football game, watching the band perform.
And their kids display another brand of courage. They show up every day. They compete. They play to win. They don’t give up – win or lose. And they don’t give up because they have watched their parents not give up. A valuable but cruel lesson to learn at such a young age.
They know – win or lose – behind the tinted windows of that SUV are their greatest fans. They know, without hesitation, the people in those cars are cheering them on. Period.
Even if they can’t hear the applause.
©Copyright 2019 Sheryl McAlister.