Sucking It Up and Driving On – Surviving Cancer

**I always write an essay with my students every year when they write their “I Believe” essays. This is mine for this year. 

I believe in sucking it up and driving on.

My father was a military man. Each morning before the sun peeked into the world and boomed its anthem, he laced up polished boots and donned an ebony barrett. He marched to the beat of Uncle Sam’s throatal yawp as I bursted to undulating life. The Army plucked us from the earth every moment our toes would begin to feel the sweet warmth of steady soil. Constantly. Our feet drove on.

When I was young, scraped knees would tattoo my skinny legs with a fresh coat of gravel and crimson shades. Striding to my aid, Daddy would look down as I reached up and out beckoning a response. With an outstretched arm, he motioned for me to grab hold and would remind me to, “suck it up and drive on”. The phrase I heard all my life which seemed to be laced with impassivity was instead carefully cradled: a life line.  

My life line. There was a steady high pitched beep on the screen to my right. The plastic clock on the wall stared back at me as my eyes fluttered open six hours early. A tube jutted out of my throat making it impossible to speak or ask while my eyes roamed around the room. Cables extended from my bruised veins to deliver saline and nutrients to my limp body. Something had gone wrong.


It loomed over my body like vultures waiting for a dead corpse. Stage IV ovarian was etched into my body with scars down my stomach as the perpetual reminder. The chemotherapy cascaded through my veins crashing over organs and seeking the last remnants of disease. For six months, every moment my cheek kissed the cold bathroom floor and my body writhed I spoke strength into my body.

“Suck it up and drive on”. 

Now my hair prickles back making shadows on my scalp. My muscles triumphantly ache and proclaim vitality in every stride during the day. My own arms, once reaching up to my father in a plea for help, reach down to my child’s extended hands who is learning to stand on his own. 

I will drive on.

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