Cancer grows in odd places and moves in unseen ways. A big mass in his chest. A tiny spot in his spine. The bad, old cells clumping together to attack and destroy.

In the beginning, death seems like the biggest and only potential thief.

You do not yet realize that

cancer will steal his hair and his energy

cancer will take his eyebrows and his taste buds

cancer will threaten how he sees himself as a father and a man.

Cancer grows in odd places and moves in unseen ways. Acid in your throat. Lungs that breathe shallow. A heart that somehow drops from chest to stomach, beating much faster than it’s supposed to.

Eventually, the cancer moves to your body too, not in the form of unruly cells but anxious thoughts.

And then you realize that

cancer will steal your trust in your own body

cancer will take your ability to trust in medicine

cancer will threaten how you see yourself as a mother and a wife.

In the end, there is no end because he is alive and well, walking and breathing, a head full of hair and eyes full of life. His scars are visible; yours are hidden.

And then you realize that

cancer stole your power

cancer took your ability to control

cancer will remind you every day that we are all decaying.

Perhaps cancer is not a thief at all.

Lesley Miller

Lesley Sebek Miller is a wife to Jonathan, and mom to Anna and Owen. She is based in Santa Barbara, California and spends her days juggling writing, laundry, and child chasing. She loves writing about motherhood, how to live authentically in a digital world, the intricacies of female friendship, and journeying through cancer. A Westmont College graduate, Lesley is currently working on her first book about supporting her husband through Hodgkin’s Lymphoma during the year they became parents. She blogs at, where you can also find a full list of her published essays.
Lesley Miller

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