We were driving home from getting groceries on a Saturday afternoon when Morgan looked over at me and said “so I have this letter thing I am supposed to do for English and I might need your help”…. Morgan and I are living proof that opposites attract, if I had known the man I was marrying had the mind of an accountant, a MATH brain, I would have snatched him up sooner! 😉 I am not a math person. Just hearing Morgan talk about math class gives me anxiety and small panic attacks. Give me math and science and ill curl up in fetal position facing the corner…. give me Creative Arts, English or Photography accompanied with creative freedom and a topic I can relate to and ill be done in a few hours. no sweat. but that’s probably no surprise since this blog this is so fun. But Morgan, he likes rules, functionality and logic. So when we came up on this semester, the only thing he saw was the word ENGLISH. We made a deal, I would be as hands on with this class as he needed me to be. The second he was feeling overwhelmed or frustrated he would ask me for help and I would drop everything I was doing immediately no questions asked. That deal seemed to satisfy the nerves and onward into the semester we went..
a few months into the semester coming up on midterms brought us to the conversation in the car on our way home from groceries when Morgan said “so I have this letter thing I am supposed to do for English and I might need your help”…. He explained to me that he had been assigned to write an open letter.
If you look up the definition of an open letter, you’ll find something like this :
- a letter, often critical, addressed to a particular person or group of people but intended for publication.
We talked about what he had in mind, what or who he would write to and he said something along the lines of “I was thinking of doing something about trucks or Mt. Dew”…. I wish we could say I was a little more graceful but we both very clearly remember my response being “that’s a dumb idea”. We had a good laugh and then started brainstorming and came up on the topic of Cancer. Morgan immediately pushed back “eh I don’t know….”. Here is the thing. Morgan doesn’t understand what an amazing thing he did. He fought AND beat cancer with the best attitude. His modest justification is how spiritually intune he was with himself at that time that he “just knew” and never once said anything bad about his situation… that is until he needed to do the dishes and then all of a sudden you’d hear a joking “I can’t, I have cancer ” 😉 (3 years later and that still hasn’t changed 😉 haha )
Finally, he gave in, our topic was cancer and it was intended for all those who wonder what it is like or those who are looking to be able to relate while writing a brief overview of his story. It’s very apparent that Morgan is rare bird when it comes to cancer victims. He takes his trial and turns it into a joke in every way he possibly can. Some of the time, if people aren’t fully aware of his story, they are taken very off guard and awkwardly stare as we are full on laughing and joking about this subject that is typically taboo. We will joke about his braid, his scars and the whole process probably on a daily basis but that is us and our relationship… its how we do.
So the writing began, we drafted a basic outline and I asked him about situations or memories that stood out to him. I took stories that he had told me in the past and we talked about the process as a whole. I sat there furiously typing while he expounded on experiences or corrected details. It was just a few hours later that we finished and somehow had come out with this impressively good paper. I honestly think both surprised ourselves when we sat back and read the final product. At first, I was worried we had tried to tackle something that was too large, too significant to try to cram into this 550 word essay. We did end up going over our word limit but got the okay from the professor to turn it in.
Two weeks later Morgan was invited to present his letter at an event held at the college. Out of 81 students in his professor’s class, he was one of 10 who were chosen. I would be lying if I said he was excited. It took him a few days but he agreed and the date was set. Morgan didn’t let anyone know that this was open to friends and family. I had to pry it out of him when and where it was so that I could be there! I brought my camera and choked back tears as I watched Morgan sitting up there, with his nervous legs bouncing and shaking hands, It was one of my proudest wife moments yet. This is the first time we have publicly addressed this part of our lives but more so Morgan’s life in a serious and vulnerable manner which is a really brave thing to do. So please be respectful and enjoy.
Below is the video, and below the video is the letter in text.
Let’s get one thing clear, there is nothing endearing about this letter. The first time I learned about you was at a very young age. Time passed and you become nothing but a fleeting memory, a concept I was aware of but not familiar with and something I never planned on introducing myself to.
Since that time, I went on and lived a fulfilling life, graduated high school and dating the girl of my dreams. I was living across the world from my family, learning, growing and serving complete strangers; bringing nothing but positivity to those I met. If there were ever a time in my life that I was truly my best it would have been then. But there you were, that whole time, maliciously inviting yourself into my body at the most inconvenient of times. It turns out that’s your M.O.
You slipped up a few times, gave me signs, all of those slowly blowing your cover. It was the third time you slipped up, the lump, that made me take you seriously. The doctors also saw a trace of you in the form of graphs and charts. My results were sent back to the United States and that’s when you couldn’t hide anymore.
Those specialists detected you right away and that’s when at 19 years old, I got a call. The call that thrusted me into a community I never wanted to be in, that terrified my parents, shocked my friends and rocked my world. No one, other than those who you have already haunted knows what it’s like to hear those three words. “You have Cancer”. It doesn’t matter what came before or what follows, that’s all that sticks.
I had a 20 hour plane ride to let it sink in, to come to terms with what you had done while my parents had 20 hours to frantically research and battle the demons filling them with all those “what-if’s” and “why him”. The last thing I ever wanted to do was to fill them with worry and the pain that uncertainty brings.
The next day, a plan of action was set and two days later I went in for the first surgery. Chemo set in and sure enough the word spread. The hair falls out, the signs are irrefutable and I am “the guy with cancer”. You stole my identity, you invaded my body, and I wasn’t completely sure how I was supposed to handle it. I didn’t want this, I didn’t invite you in, I certainly didn’t ask for this but yet, there you were. I had to watch my mom fight back tears of helplessness as a gentle touch caused me to wince in pain. You caused my hero’s eyes to fill with fear as my dad watched me, being pumped with poison because only the foulest of things would get rid of something as demonizing as you. You terrorized my little sisters as they watched their older brother wither away and tortured my friends with anxiety, wondering how I was, how they could help and if it happened to me, could they be next.
It was a long four months but I did it. I beat you. I know you are still out there and that I am not immune to your malicious return but for now, I wear your defeat around like a trophy. This uneven section of hair braided down my back is the literal result of your defeat. My battle scars are a crown and constant reminder of your callow attempt to consume me. Despite all of your attempts since you made your appearance, I have celebrated 3 birthdays, I am going to school, I own a truck and a house. Oh, and remember that girl I mentioned before? Well, we are married.
You didn’t teach me one thing. In fact, I have taught you. I taught you that a family’s love and support can magnify in ways unimaginable. I taught you that the power of prayer is stronger than any poison pumped into my body and that optimism can overcome any dismay. But that is not all, the single most important lesson I have taught you is that you will not consume me and I am not afraid, I will not live in fear and you will not win.
Spitefully, your victor