Sep 07, 2012 - 12:34 pm
There has been quite a lot of sad news recently. Tragedy seems to come in waves in this part of the world – during my time here, I’ve seen over 250+ fellow fighters fall by the wayside as the war on cancer continues to mount.
Many of these folks were dear friends of mine…
The impact of losing the friends I’ve shared with over the years here has started to have a profound impact on me…it’s very cumulative and it continues to add up.
Part of me wants to run, and yet, I find that I cannot, even in the wake of things still to come…we must take the bad with the good and though it pains my heart, I feel that I must stand by the few remaining friends that I have left here – to be there for them.
There is another part of me that says I’ve had enough of this pain of watching & witnessing what cancer has done to my friends. I’ve always tried to see the other side of cancer and the good things that we can bring out of the chaos…
But, when folks start fallin’…well, I just can’t gloss it over at times like these….
The community now is full of new members who are going through cancer and some are going through it for the first time. You’re meeting new members and getting bonded and feeling connected. You’re identifying with other members who had a similar case of cancer as you have.
Or, you’ve identified with the first people who welcomed you to the board. You’re getting great advice and you’re fighting your fight…
And then the losses start…and then they continue…and they never seem to stop…and new folks come over the hill starting the cycle anew.
At first, you take the hits and absorb the losses and continue to post and move forward and we’re gonna’ “kick cancer’s butt”…and all of that.
What’s gonna’ happen – if it hasn’t already, is that there will be a passing that will carry more personal significance based on the relationship you had with them. That’s gonna’ hurt – and hurt bad. You can imagine stringing together a few hundred of those…in just 3-years time.
As I said, I’ve watched hundreds fall as I helplessly watched the tragedy unfold…it can get to a point where it feels like too much. I’m as strong as I can be, but it does get to me.
I guess for me, it comes from being a product of the Class of 2009…it was a magical time here filled with very special people…or maybe it just seemed magical, because as much as I thought I knew, I was naïve to the cancer world around me – and what it was capable of doing – I had not yet seen the true dark side of cancer. I was just so happy to be here and wanted to help folks with the things I’d already gone through.
When I said goodbye to my first oncologist on our last visit, he told me, “There is a calm over you now that I have not seen in our previous 5-years together.”
I told him I had found the board…and we were just one big happy family…a family that had cancer, but other than that, it was just too cool.
He looked at me straight-faced and told me, “You know some of them are not going to make it.”
I looked at him like a deer caught in the headlights – just dumbfounded was I. I kept thinking you just don’t know our folks…we have cancer, but we’re gonna’ live forever.
That’s how I wanted it to be…
Sadly, my time on this board has shown me more enlightenment and realism than even I want to look at sometimes. It is getting harder and harder for me to see my ’09 Classmates leaving me behind.
It’s such a hollow feeling – and it’s nothing against the new folks…I’d like to get to know you. I’ve not been able to connect with many of the new folks that have joined, though I’ve tried to touch as many as I can. My life is under construction mopping up my dad’s spills and handling a very demanding workload.
But, with so many of my friends gone from cancer and the others away from here and out living their lives, you look around the room and you feel like such a stranger in the house that you have lived in. It’s hard to explain.
The list of folks is so long…and so painful…a lot of times I deal with death – by not dealing with it. But the board has made me address this time and time again…often with very profound feelings from the passing of people who had come to mean so much to me.
I always thought it would be forever – I think I’m still naïve like that, otherwise, I’d just lose my mind here.
While there is still time for all of us, I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone here I’ve ever met and talked to – you have meant so much to me…and I guess this has been reinforced by the pain that I feel for your passing or your imminent departure…that tells me that you meant something to me.
Thank you for that! Thank you for all that you were to me – and to us!
The past few weeks, I’ve been having terrible shoulder pain – that would radiate down to the elbow – and down to my right thumb. Sometimes, it feels like my elbow is numb, but my thumb tingles that neuropathy type of tingling, you know?
The pain got so bad, I had to resort to taking Tramadol for a few days. I can’t stand medicine and I hate taking any type of medication – so for me to do this, was a big deal.
This coincided with Steved’s news of his upcoming surgery along with Jenny’s recent passing…
Steve’s case has been working on me for some time now…I’m not going to lie…I’m just flat out worried and concerned for our friend.
What got to me was that where I was hurting in my shoulder was where they sawed off a couple of my ribs, which was in the area where I last had confirmed cancer. They had scraped the chest cavity as clean as they could get it, but could not get clear margins, so we had to radiate.
The ribs/bones at that time biopsied negative, but cancer was visibly present in the chest cavity…so my mind went to bad places real quick….I had this nightmare of them amputating my right arm up to the shoulder.
As I said, Steve’s case has messed me up…I’m just not as brave as he is.
So, I had a knee-jerk reaction and made an appointment with the onc to go over my concerns. And he took me seriously. He did not think it could be cancer, but felt that my complaint was valid.
So, he ordered a PET/CT scan for me…..just three-months past my last clear scan…I wasn’t scheduled for anything until after Turkey Day…
Who would want to overlook this and take the chance on a potential tumor growing to a point where we had another problem to deal with?
Knee-jerk reaction, sure?
But, better to be safe than sorry.
I am very adept at interpreting CT reports and requested mine be released, so that I could evaluate my condition.
When I got through reading the report…I liked everything that I saw….Still Clear!
We’re now at 15-months, which is a new personal record for me! This breaks the 1-year mark that I held the longest in my very 1st year…
Now, in Year 8, I’ve scored the biggest victory against cancer in my entire battle….and it’s come at the end of many years of fighting – at a stage where many are no longer able to fight or have already transitioned out.
Even I get cynical and jaded at various times….but Hope does exist…it can happen…
HOPE is still alive…
With all of the sad news, I hesitated in writing this post. Mostly, if the community news is good and mine is bad…I wait.
And if the community news is bad…and mine is good…I wait.
But, I see spirits sagging out there and know everyone’s resolve is again being tested and perhaps starting to wane…so I wanted to offer up this latest news of Hope.
Victories of this magnitude are hard to come by, especially after so many years. One expects to be losing the fight, instead of winning the big one – we understand that there is no guarantee…but cancer is not claiming all of us, though he takes his fair share.
I’m 8.3 years into the battle…15 months out of my last fight…and just scored the biggest victory of my fight (so far).
I thought this news might help a few out there…
I wasn't going to post about it, but since we just did this scan, my onc has cancelled the Turkey Day scan, which will push me out to Feb2013 for the next scheduled scan. So, that combined with all of the sad news made me decide to talk with you today.
So, for the first time in my entire cancer journey…I’m now walking down the Path of the Unknown. I’m not sure what to expect going forward. I’ve outlived many other prognostications on my imminent demise during my cancer battle, but I wake up each day and find I'm still here - The Whys I've stopped wondering about.
'Cause, I just don't know...
Still too early to get excited…but I thought the news had some relevance to it and was worth posting the news to the group.
I’ll close with this very sobering thought…
One would have to walk the long cancer walk of close to a decade, to understand the conflict I feel from living all of these years longer than I should have – while the friends that I grew up with are falling all around me.
As time goes by…you become a little bit lonelier up here at the place you considered a haven - and called home.
Because, you see, there is a little piece of you that dies along with the person that just passed each time that they do – and it wears you down much like the waves that smash against the rocks on the shoreline...
I haven’t lived to a ripe old age, but I imagine this must be akin to growing older by nature and having your friend pass…and you wake up and find you are one of the Last of the Mohicans. It is some kind of funny feeling.
I think I finally understand now what it is that Emily was trying to tell me about losing people close to you…
It's taken me three very hard years up here of "Emotional Investment" with all of you to gain that critical understanding and come to that acceptance.
Still I won’t give up on myself – and I’m certainly not giving up on you.
I’m stupid like that.
Much love and healing for the community!
Love/Craig (8.3 yrs)