Jan 29, 2013 - 2:19 pm
You might think that the further you get down the road in the cancer journey, that you would be able to find some peace and contentment somewhere along the path.
I’m here to tell you that can be the furthest thing from the truth there is….it’s predicated on where you are standing right then, in your life journey.
Oh, there are spells of time in which we convince ourselves that all is well…or will be well. And then our emotions turn topsy turvy on us as quickly as the sun sets and the moon rises.
And then we recant in our mind what we told ourselves as we’re caught up in yet another cancer maelstrom that plays havoc with our emotions, while stealing away those precious moments that we don’t have to spare.
And that’s on a good day…
And as strange as it may seem to you right now, those moments can even come when you’re not even currently in the fight and you find yourself sitting on a clear status.
“How can that be?”
“I’d be so happy if I was just NED and my life would just return to normal…nothing else would matter.”
Yes, I understand those sentiments very well…
I think for a long, long time, I held those same beliefs and tried to adhere to that philosophy. And perhaps, to some degree, I still do….or at least, I still WANT TO.
There is that part of me living inside of myself that wants to believe this could be true. I suppose Doubt and Faith play their role into cajoling one another and the ongoing duel determines so much of how we manage our condition.
Having fought this so many times over the years though, one’s perspective can often change. And that’s a good thing. Change usually comes when Awareness graduates to Enlightenment.
Sometimes, the knowledge from that is good…and other times it is bad…bad in the sense that sometimes we don’t want to readily accept what we’re seeing and beginning to understand. We’d rather go back to the time before that…and yet we cannot.
And then we find that we have no choice but to grow from what we’ve learned or come to realize. And that is…”Enlightenment does not discriminate – it educates.”
One can never know the good – without understanding the bad, as well.
It would be sacrilege for anyone to come onto the board with those fighting so hard and say that NED is not always as advertised – or that once you get there, if you can get there, that it really is not all that it seems to be.
Of course, this varies from person to person….
But, before we become judgmental about that statement, let’s all take a step back and just try to look at it through another’s eyes besides your own…and your own circumstances.
A lot of folks have riches in their lives beyond the realm with which we measure wealth….what I like to refer to as the Human Intrinsic Values…and it’s important from this perspective, because it drives us down certain lanes that others cannot merge into.
What one sees as an Oasis – can be only a Mirage to another…
It really depends upon your life experiences…and the life you are leading….and who’s in your life with you. These things all derive in defining who you are and how you see things.
I want to talk about how cancer operates on the inside of us…we already know the outward effects of the disease all too well.
So, here’s what I’m seeing now from my vantage point in the journey…mile marker = 103 months…remissive state…watching and waiting…
Let’s talk about where Cancer does its most insidious work…
Cancer lives in your subconscious…
He resides elsewhere too…our tissues, our organs, our lymph nodes…and he is ever-present in our waking hours, even when we try and confine him to a small room in the back of our heads.
Doesn’t work for long, does it?
One of his biggest weapons is that thin layer of cerebral activity that lies just beneath our conscious thoughts. Most times, we’re not awake for any of that, but in the morning, we feel that nagging feeling of something just not quite right in your noggin that day.
That feeling then manifests itself into the Conscious Thought, that we are all familiar with.
But, just because we may not think it…or think that we think it…doesn’t mean that we didn’t think.
Because, there is a huge internal wrestling match going on in our heads everyday…we think we will find peace and tranquility somewhere in the day…and we fill the day with everything we can to divert our attention off that nagging thought that permeates our lives.
“Is This It?”
This is a 2-sided question. We could look at it both ways here.
I cannot answer question #1…I’m waiting to find out just like the rest of you are.
As for #2, the answer is a definitive NO…at least for this post. I hope a future post one day will show a change in how I feel, but for now, No….these feelings always seem to stay with you….103 months and counting now.
Part of it is actually worse than it was in all of the earlier years…and I’ll tell you why.
Back when you start fighting, you fight hard…you expect to win…but I think there is also a part of you that truly feels that you won’t make it.
One day you wake up and find you’ve outlived the prognosis that your doctors gave you…and you find out that you have gone longer than even you had predicted.
And as strange as this sounds….that’s where part of the problem starts.
It all begins to change when you find Recurrence Lane…that’s where the first Seeds of Doubt are planted in your subconscious.
Where it gets worse, is if you begin to have multiple recurrences…that’s the game changer…for the physical fight…and equally important, the mental and emotional fight.
You can only know when you’ve reached that destination. Look how scared and over it you are now….you walk into this room green…think you’ve got this whipped after the first lick…and then things change with Recurrence’s introduction.
And it should…
So, as far as physically reaching a remissive state, that is a huge accomplishment…even if your life all around you is less than what you want it to be. No argument there.
But, now you see that you are going to live for awhile longer…and yet, you are still shackled to those emotional chains that cancer has you wrapped up tight in.
“How do we break free?”
I don’t know. I’ve read stories up here about folks that told me they did. I think to myself if what they are telling me is what they really believe – or is it more for the benefit of the patients here on the board?
I know we all want to put our best foot forward and project the most positive image we can, because we feel that will be in the best interest of the group.
Still, we can’t always gloss over the hard topics of cancer on the board…
And this is a hard topic…because you ask yourself, “Why am I not feeling the way that I feel I should be feeling?”
Now, say that really fast 3x, LOL!
But, I always think that an honest examination of what we are truly feeling is very revealing…and quite cleansing...and that’s where I come in….at least for myself.
You would think that driving cancer back in the shadows on three separate occasions would be a big deal, wouldn’t you?
It was…and it IS…
When I came off this last fight and got clear again (3rd time), I just didn’t have the ‘feelings’ I thought I should be feeling.
I was waiting for the balloons to fall out of the ceiling…and for the band to start playing, For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow…..where was my cake…where was my ice cream for this party?
I even remarked “Where’s Jenny with my margarita?” My friend has since passed.
But, I was waiting for the big moment…and it never came…even at the restaurant when I took my wife to ‘celebrate’, I turned to her and said hey 3x now, we did it…”Woot Woot.” I just circled my finger like whoopdedo.
She looked up from her phone (on FB) and said, “Yea” in a whisper that was barely audible.
I felt like a failure…what this was all about, I thought. “Is This It?”
There was nobody else to physically share this news with me…so it landed with a resounding THUD in my heart (the board was kind however).
But, it all felt so empty…so hollow….like what was it all for? Is this all there is ever gonna’ be? Even if I defeat cancer 20x?
I returned to work for the 5th time…and it was like I never left…just no big deal…after investing 25-years of my life with this organization….the silence was deafening.
I went back to my same laboratory that I had built in a former life…a life before cancer…and still sitting there were the 2 dummies I had left before…they currently have me on the Cold Shoulder plan…and have not spoken to me now in 12-months for reasons unbeknownst to me.
I pretend it doesn’t bother me…and just go about my business as a pro.
It has taken me quite a bit of time to physically recover from this last fight…I’m seeing now that some of my ailments and impairments are never going to go away…and may grow exceedingly difficult as time passes…even if I never have to fight again.
Then, at the start of last year, Dad got sick…you know the rest.
Through all of that, the one thought that kept me going was that I was in a remissive state and thus able to take on all of that responsibility…
But, the other part of living his life all of last year, was this URGENCY that my meter was running…and that I was going to run out of time again, before my next recurrence showed up to sideline us even further.
That’s where some of the anger has been stemming from…
I worked hard to defeat my cancer 3x…and yet, so far, there has been anything at the end of the rainbow.
My main concern is that I “Chewed Up” all of my good days wallowing through that pig trough of a house and its contents, and straightening out his estate, with all of that extraneous drama, while my cancer free days died steadily on the vine.
I’m anxious in ways that I can’t fully put into words…
It’s sort of like this Drowning, Suffocating feeling that is trying to pull me down ….that panic feeling you get when you’re flailing trying to gasp air.
I finally got the house to market…I’m trying to repair my life…and I’m trying to move forward…and I guess, I’m just impatient is what it probably boils down to.
I’ve flipped the light switch…I’m on…my candle is burning brightly….but I’m trapped…and can’t get out of this quicksand. And I’m going to tell you why…
So, I want to say that I absolute 100% agree with Pete in the following paragraph on the work topic that plays directly to the trapped feeling I find myself in now.
Awhile back, Pete alluded to the fact that he was tired of working and no longer had interest in spending his days in that fashion.
I absolute concur with his assessment.
That’s where I find myself drowning right now. Many of you think that returning to your work will give you some normalcy back in your life and make you forget about cancer.
Many of those thinking that way have only experienced cancer for the first time. And that’s a much different mindset than when you’ve fought recurrence many times over many years.
Of course, many of you probably love your occupations. And that plays a big role…so big in fact, that those feelings may never pertain to you.
But, they do for me…
Because, I’m mismatched for my position…and I don’t feel the joy that so many of you do with your careers. I rose through the ranks to manage an IT department…it’s significant for two reasons.
One, everyone…and I mean everyone…told me I would never be a manager…I did.
Second, because it really goes against the grain of who I am. I’m not a machine and IT is like a salmon swimming upstream. I’m geared more for the creative side. I like to write…and missed my calling…missed it for many reasons I’ve already talked about.
So, here I am…25-years invested in a career field….stricken with cancer 3x…company unsure about my future…me unsure about my future….with limited health and abilities, selling yourself somewhere else would be a tough sell.
I need what I’ve earned…and I need the insurance…
But, the joy is gone…I work in fear…I live in fear…my livelihood is driven by fear….fear that I’m not going to be able to do Today – what I did Yesterday.
And being sacked…and losing everything as a result.
It’s a terrible way to live…
So, when I whip cancer, I simply return back to work (at the very least) and while it keeps a roof over our heads, it is simply not life fulfilling anymore.
I think most of you know what I would do with my life…if I had options.
Every day, I watch another 24-hours bleed slowly out of my life…I trudge to work and home, creeping along slowly in those metal coffins with 4-wheels and try to get through it.
Like most, I wait for the weekends, where I owe no time to The Man. Only, we don’t get to enjoy…we simply have to work…last year at Dad’s…this year at our place, which has become a house of disarray over the past year. We know why.
I keep trying to work on another life that I had high hopes for….but, it doesn’t seem to be in the cards for me to flourish or prosper…only to suffer and endure accordingly.
I think of the things I could do in the cancer world…but I don’t have the right stuff to garner anyone’s attention, I guess…all the doors and windows remain shut, despite my best huffing and puffing, I can barely crack more than a fart in the wind.
I caught a few minutes of American Idol that my wife had playing…this terrible girl was up there gyrating and butchering every note…it sounded like fingernails down a blackboard.
But, there she was on a national tv show…in Prime Time…a complete embarrassment, but she got those few minutes.
It reminded me of what we’re being told that makes good drama or a good story….a small group of people deciding that this girl would be good for a few quick, cheap laughs at her expense.
And it made me think of the other Do’ers out there who program show content…and what it must take to get a shot at their shows.
I’ve failed with Dr. Phil…and now with Jeff Probst…what was it about me that they rejected?
They all advertise they want real stories with real people….all of the book agents I sent manuscripts did too…I sent them in one by one. I was lucky to receive a physical email rejection…most of the votes come through loud and clear – through Silence.
But, they are deceptive in what they ask for…if you look closely, it’s always about the celebrity or spotlight figure…not much pickings for the real guy…every now and then you’ll get a dose…guess that kind of stuff doesn’t pay the light bill.
And after a lifetime of searching, I finally know what I want to do…and I’m slowly discovering it’s probably what I’ll never get the chance to do. And that’s been a great deal of frustration as I watch my cancer clocking winding down…Tick, Tick, Tick.
And this is where Cancer is trying to drive a wedge in me right now…
I’ve almost given up on the dream of ever being anything in this life…so, I thought how much of my life can I now put back together while I’ve got the chance?
We’re just trying to get to the basics right now…after a year ‘off’ from our place, I see where the work needs to be done…and I’m mapping out the year of what we can get done.
Unfortunately, work gets in the way…I need some type of sabbatical…I just need to be able to get up every morning, have $$$ put in the bank, so I don’t have to work…and have the freedom to think and pursue my endeavors.
Along those lines, I have another interesting idea that I wish could unfurl and become some kind of reality.
You know how when persons in the military are wounded in battle, in essence, they get RETIRED from active duty?
I would like a program like that for cancer patients…a program where on your 3rd recurrence, you could retire from your work…and have a financial program in place that paid you for your service while you lived out the rest of your life doing whatever you wanted to do.
I said I was a dreamer…
But, that’s how I feel…I want to be doing something else…before it’s too late…while I still have opportunity to be viable…instead of dying slowly in a laboratory, with my spirit being slowly crushed.
“What brought all of these feelings to the surface, Craig?”
Well, my scans are due in March and I was having to rearrange the scan and the consult appt...and it got on my mind…I’m not a scananxiety guy…in recent years, I don’t think about it too much…until, I get my report online and begin to break down the scan report.
There’s always that “Here We Go” when you click on the link to open the report…then you take a deep breath…and go looking for the words.
I’m not really scared of cancer anymore…at times I would have welcomed death, just to finally be done with it once and for all.
There are two words though Brain Met(s) – that would unhinge me somewhat…okay, alot.
I find myself more TREPIDACIOUS at this fork in the road for me right now.
I see me getting to a remissive state 19 mos ago…then having to spend last year putting out dad’s fires…and now, my rocket is on the launching pad…and I’m ready to lift off and move on to What’s Next?…and yet, that nagging thought that cancer may just be around the corner to knock the wind back out of my sail and further dictate what my life will be….
I just want to get back to the “Illusion of Control” that I so often talk about…that would be pretty good about now.
It’s just all so unsettling…to Want to move forward…but unable to completely break free from the grip that cancer holds over us.
And I’m just saying all of this to you, because I wanted you to know that as a nearly 9-year fighter that these feelings NEVER truly will ever go away.
We will manage them…some days we will do better than the next one…but it doesn’t get any easier….doesn’t look like it ever will.
You know why?
Because, you know what it is that we are really looking for?
ASSURANCE…we want that feeling that it is all behind us…and that we will never have to worry about it again….we paid our dues…now, we want to be free of it.
That’s IT – in a nutshell…at least for me.
So, the point I was trying to make is that…Cancer Never Sleeps….he never takes a holiday….he hides….he waits…and he lulls each of us into that false sense of contentment…until it’s time to re-awaken those feelings.
And then those feelings of Apprehension and Trepidation creep back in...
It’s important to note that just because you get clear…does not mean you’re life will magically turn around on a dime and go back to what it was…and that you will be Happy Slappy with a worry free life.
I got free of cancer again this last time…and just thought I was miserable, until I walked into a firefight of a lifetime with dad’s life…and I’ve yet to harvest what I sowed from all of that hard cancer work.
So much of our life is not our own…it’s taken me all of this time to understand that concept.
I guess I’m just tired of conforming and having to fit my square peg ass into society’s round hole of what I should be doing….I want something else.
Fighting and winning against cancer is nothing…if there is not something else to live for.
But, as I wrote in the book (haven’t changed my mind) is that if we are very fortunate…we simply return to the life we led prior to cancer…
Just about as simple as that…one of these days, I will learn to accept that.