I didn’t know the specifics of the disease, only that it ran in my family.Cancer was briefly discussed in my high school biology class: the cells in the body suddenly going awry, reproducing at a fast rate without cause, perhaps from a faulty gene in the body. I put up some sort of a mental wall that led me to think that I was untouchable, that even though it ran in the family, this disease would not be able to touch us. Myself having always been health-conscious, and I having never known anyone who has ever dealt with the disease. Then, in March of 2015, my current boyfriend said the most heartbreaking word i’ll ever hear: cancer. I’ll never come to understand the shock he was in when he uttered that word so quietly, in my ear. My head spins at the sight of blood. I have no tolerance for pain. Yet at that moment, no amount of heartbreak or physical pain could compare to what I felt upon learning that my first best friend and love, was going to be battling skin cancer. I truly think anyone who battles this kind of cancer feels betrayed by their body: the very thing that encases you and ensures your safety from the bacteria of the worldI took the news the hardest. I shut myself from the world and refused to talk entirely. I thought that if I forgot about it, it wouldn’t be real. For months, I couldn’t think about the word for fear that by doing so, the situation would become worse. Before my boyfriend, I didn’t know very much about skin cancer. I was torn between wanting to know more because I wanted to be informed, and not wanting to, because I wasn’t sure if I could handle the truth.The first time it truly hit me that my best friend had cancer was after his first dermatology appointment. At the time, he asked me to wait at home, that he would come over after it was over until he called me begging me to come in and help him face the news. Every one of them in the waiting room looked the same, with their heads wrapped with either a cap or a scarf. I tried not to look at their faces but all I could see was his future.My memory is something I am thankful for being a student. Now I feel like it’s become a curse rather than a blessing because of my ability to remember things in detail: what the room smelled like, what the color of the many hospital gowns were; when he was too weak to walk so he was wheeled into the operating room and his dazed look; the excruciating pain i had waiting for any kind of news; when he was finally in the recovery room with his blank stare.I remember all the tests he would undergo just to make sure his platelets remained intact. I could remember after his first chemotherapy session, the uneasiness of his stomach; the way he would call me in the middle of the night sobbing. I remember the horrible things. But I will also never forget the relief I felt afterward.You see, when a member of the family gets cancer, it’s like everyone has the disease. It changes the tone of life. You are forced to learn new ways of thinking and living to accommodate the change. Most of the time, I felt like I was stuck in an endless loop of the same nightmare, every day hoping it would be over. But this is reality: my boyfriend has lost a sizable chunk from his back. Soon he will being losing his hair, too, because of the treatment.He continued to get sicker as time went on, only seeming to get worse. His family, now mine, and I were starting to worry; his cancer seemed to only be progressing. I remember overhearing the doctors talking about the possibility of another immediate round of chemo. Looking back at his empty eyes hurt my heart. Soon enough my outlook on life became extremely cynical, thinking everyone would do me wrong. I became bitter, giving my only feelings of sympathy back to my boyfriend. Suddenly after his third chemo treatment, his cancer looked to be in remission. Only three long months later he was diagnosed temporarily cancer-free. The relief we all felt was immense an overwhelming, immediately I started thanking any deity I could think of, beginning to pray for his safety in the future. As of the end of 2016, he has been officially cancer free for four months, of course there were the little bumps in the road, but he managed to keep focused on recovery.After the storm, you begin to search for the rainbow. You realize giving adequate support is a big step towards a healthy recovery. You realize that having cancer is not a guaranteed death sentence with new technology.Garrett is not just a statistic on a piece of paper locked away in some filing cabinet . He is and will always be so much more than just that. Cancer cannot define anyone. My boyfriend is strong, understanding, and caring. With or without cancer, he continues to grow and refuses to let his diagnosis rein over his life. My biggest regret is shutting him out for so long.Cancer led me to realize while life will almost always have a bleak undertone, not everything is as cruel as it really seems. Almost every problem has a viable solution.