Cape Disappointment: Cancer Ripped Me Off


I thought it was over.

I thought my battle with cancer, won.

But scars have a way of hiding themselves in crevasses, pretending not to hurt allowing us to tuck inside pain, loss and dreams of a better tomorrow.

Lying next to my wife in tiny room surrounded by the ocean her words begin to carefully pry at the exterior shell I accidentally created to protect myself from any more pain.

We had to get away for God to get my attention. Long ago, in what feels like a far away land, I was a dreamer and a visionary. My hope, my idealism and my ability to see the brighter side is what made me Rick Dancer.

When cancer silently, yet abruptly snuck into my story, fear changed me. I am so busy surviving I failed to see what a diagnosis of cancer robbed me of was all those dreams and visions that made me, me.

I survived the sting of death but somehow that ugly cancer robbed me of me and in it’s own way killed, me.

As Kathy carefully took me back to a time when hope still had the ability to resuscitate my soul we begin to realize what cancer took from me. I had never seen it so clearly. In order to survive I forgot to hope, I forgot to dream and I forgot to laugh.

When cancer becomes part of your life you numb yourself to so much, without even knowing it. Survival is a funny thing. We don’t want to die and in trying to live we forget who we are in the process.

Cancer is a bitch. It hangs over my head and while those who have never fought it can say: “move on” it doesn’t happen that easily.

We can pretend everything is okay but this weekend I realized it is not. I’m lost and I need God to help me find me.

In the pouring rain, Kathy and I walked to the lighthouse at Cape Disappointment. It somehow seems so appropriate to stand here, looking at the sea and asking God to bring back the dreamer, the visionary and the man who used to laugh. As I thought of all the shipwrecks and sailors whose lives ended here. As I thought of all the dreams that were disappointed here I feel akin to those pioneers who came before me. Success is not what you do or what you find. Success is defined by how big we dream, how much we see and whether we smile in the process.


Oh, God, help me find me. Help me wipe away the ugly residue cancer left behind so I can live large again. Cancer didn’t kill my body but it killed something just as important and I want it back, we want it back.

As we stand on the rocky shores of Cape Disappointment I feel like a ship lost at sea but not run aground. I feel like a captain of a vessel who has seen the tiny beacon of light on the hill, ushering it to something new.

Cape Disappointment: I refuse to spend my life living in the shadow of cancer. You will not define me.