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“Our Battle Lines are Drawn in the Sand” – A Sundance Introspective

Sundanceh's picture
Sundanceh
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

What is the definition of Introspective?

By definition: involving, or frequently undertaking, a deep and candid examination of your own thoughts and feelings.

From time to time, I like to discuss the various aspects of the Cancer Wars and how they relate to each one of us – how our lives are affected – and what we feel and experience along our individual journeys, as well as our collective journey as a community.

And on occasion, I am sometimes able to string together a sentence or two…and even form a thought or a feeling that we can all relate to. When I am able to do that and touch that common chord of humanity that resides deeply in all of us, I am filled with contentment that only writing can bring to me.

Writing is a cathartic and emotional experience for me. I write from my heart, so it should come as no surprise when I “knock on the door” to your heart – after all, that is where the LIFE is found, isn’t it?

I wanted to discuss the Four Battles on the War Against Cancer – the Human Condition.

1. Physical Battle
2. Mental Battle
3. Spiritual Battle
4. Financial Battle

We are confronted on all sides of the battle by these four components – how we fight these battles, by managing them and overcoming the obstacles put in our way, is what will ultimately define who we are – and what we will become – and how we will be remembered.

It’s a tall order, to be sure, and one that is not taken lightly – we are playing for keeps here. But watching each one of you go through these battles, with your head held high, has given me an appreciation of what the human spirit can endure, when the mind is right to fight.

As I begin, I am talking to all of us in our battles – the Patients and the CareGivers. Together, we are the One-Two punch in our daily struggles and we are each, the sum-total of the entire equation. And if my math is correct, we add One + One and it Equals ONE. That’s a nice number, isn’t it?

PHYSICAL BATTLE
We’re all familiar with this piece of the puzzle. The dreaded “front-line duty” is where we must begin and wage our war everyday – and where we have to stay the strongest, in order to have the outcome that we and our loved ones want for us. We ask a great deal out of our bodies and we throw ourselves into the fray with abandon, hope, and the promise of another day.

It seems that we must risk it all and make a trade of “Future Todays” for the hope and chance of “Many Tomorrows.” It is a life issue - what we’re banking on is the fact that we will not give up too much of our quality of life, in order to get to the next day and beyond… and still have the majority of our Five Senses left – for those are what make up what we so affectionately refer to as LIFE.

And in no particular order, the Five Senses are: Taste, Touch, Sight, Sound, and Smell.

Woven together, they are the essential essence of what we are comprised of – a delicate pallet with which one experiences our environment. When these are severely compromised or taken away from us entirely, our Quality of Life is altered – our hopes are that we will be will be left with enough to continue to enjoy our life and those people that are in it and the things that we enjoy doing.

It’s like walking the tightrope without a net – the line that divides that quality often times can get blurred or skewed during the journey. We understand we have to trade This for That – but just leave us something, right? That’s not asking too much.

The doctors just do not get this one do they? Their focus has been on “keeping our hearts” beating – past that and they do not know what to do, or what to tell us. There is just no current training for this thing.

But how would you train them? In order to LEARN – one must EXPERIENCE. And many of our doctors have not walked in our shoes or traveled the roads we walk down.

So, I’ve come to understand that is why we have each other here in Our World. We’re the ones who have been “appointed” to help educate each other and explain things so that we all understand what it is that we are Feeling and Thinking.

And in my opinion, we are the best examples that we can be to each other to help all of us get to the other side – or out of bed – or down the road. And being able to help each other, is something that I consider an honor & privilege to be able to do – to just let somebody else know – “It’s OK” – “We’ve been there” – “And we’re with you.”

I’ve always said that Cancer is all about CONCESSION.

From the moment, we are diagnosed, we begin to Concede-Concede-Concede. Cancer will begin to take away “all that we are” – and “all that we’re ever going to be”, if we let it continue on its path.

That’s the part of the battle where we have to reach deep down inside each one of us and TAKE BACK whatever it is that we can take back. And by doing so, it establishes the boundaries of the War – it draws “the line in the sand” - and we begin to decide what we’re not going to live with – and try to take some control of our lives back.

It is an “Awakening” and harkens our senses to come to attention immediately. When one looks across the table at Mortality, all senses come alive like they have never been so before. You know, at that moment, that this is for keeps – you know it’s for real then.

It’s the “Fight or Flight” syndrome – but there’s nowhere to run or hide, so we double-up our fists and hit the SOB square in the jaw, just to get its attention and let it know, “Hey, I’m here too.” You wanna’ fight? Ok, you got one and I hope you packed a lunch – ‘cause it’s gonna’ be a long one!

MENTAL BATTLE
The MIND is the absolute #1 key ingredient in our War Against Cancer. The mind is a powerful weapon in our arsenal – many battles are won or lost right here, even before they begin. Your mind “must be right to fight.” Without that battle cry, the war is already over before you fired your first shot.

Sometimes, it is a case of Mind Over Matter – we simply will the mind to do something and the body will follow. Other times, as we waver in our struggles, we have our days of helplessness, despair, and depression.

One of the keys to overcoming these feelings is to not stay that way for too long – this is a normal cycle of feelings – and I think ones that must be experienced when they occur, and then put them behind you and continue to advance forward. You would not be human if you did not feel these thoughts at times – even if we did not have cancer, the general population is feeling the same way – and we’ve got cancer on top of everything else. So, ours is a hard way to go – but definitely “doable.”

We’ve just got keep our feet movin’ when we can – we can stop to rest and gather ourselves – but we can’t stop the fight – we all know what happens there. We cannot give back what we have fought so hard to attain.

General Patton had a famous saying, “We don’t pay for the same real estate TWICE. We are, all the time, ADVANCING.”

And so it must be with our minds – the mental War on Cancer is every bit as tough as the physical, but in different ways of course. This is the part of the battle, where I like to talk about TIME and PATIENCE.

Time – it takes time for the body and mind to heal after surgeries and treatments. There is no “timetable” for any of this to occur. Mother Nature lets us know, in her infinite wisdom”, how far we have come – and how much further that we still have to go. Getting rid of a timetable is a huge burden removed from our shoulders and takes away an unreal expectation that few of us can ever meet.

Patience – one must become a “Steady Eddy” and just take each day as it comes. We sometimes deal with recurrences and all sorts of setbacks with our treatments and how our bodies are responding etc.etc. The biggest thing that we can do here, is to keep getting out of bed every morning and trying to embrace a new beginning – we never what a new day will bring us – I for one, always hang on to the hope that somewhere, somehow, something will happen that is magic – and those are the days worth living from.

It’s the reason I could never commit suicide – what if tomorrow were That Great Day – and I missed it? Most days are filled with routine, appointments, commitments, chores and such – but every now and then we get a “slice of the pie” and boy, doesn’t it taste so good?

Yes, Time and Patience - this is where I like to use the old fable about the Tortoise and the Hare:

“The race is not always won by the swiftest – rather slow and steady steps will still get you to the finish line – and victory.”

Be Strong – Be Resilient – Be Patient – good things can come to those who wait.

SPIRITUAL BATTLE
For many of us, this is another key component in our Cancer War. As overwhelming as this disease can be to each of us affected, there comes with it, a sense of hopelessness at times.

We feel so out of control with what has happened to us and our loved ones, that we need to “unload” that burden so we can feel that we’re not alone in this – and that a higher power is at work, controlling our outcome.

That’s a comforting thought. I wish I had the answer to this one – and one day each of us will know what that answer is, when our time comes. Until then, we still have to stay somewhat rooted in reality. From what I can see, it appears to be a mixture of many elements.

Prayer is good for our souls – it makes us feel connected in a spiritual way and gives us an outlet to express how we feel for someone in our lives. It gives us the opportunity to be able to do something for someone that we can do, instead of standing by helpless.

But, I think we all know that sometimes it takes much more than that to keep ourselves and our loved ones alive. Prayer in and of itself may not help you completely. It also takes the skill of a talented medical team.

It was the surgeon who placed that stent in your liver, who resected your colon, or who removed that tumor from your lung. Their skill and years of training, combined with the power of prayer, made for a winning combination.

FINANCIAL BATTLE
If we stay in the fight long enough, this one will eventually catch up to us. Over time, the treatments and multiple surgeries continue to pile on and add up. They place a burden on each of us, that over time, can become too much to handle.

We wake up sick one morning and a few years later, we can’t rob Peter to pay Paul anymore. The scans, bloodwork, chemo treatments, pills and meds, and multiple surgeries stretch you like a rubber band and threaten to destroy the very fabric of your lifestyle.

Some of us have families we could fall back on – but some folks don’t have a family that we could rely upon, so for some, that is not an option. The thin line between home and the street is an all to real scenario. We’re walking that tightrope again – and it looks like a long way down from way up here.

How can this happen? Well, I know how it happened – in a word, $$$.

Back in 1973, the band, Pink Floyd, wrote an epic song, “Money.”

One of the lines is so prophetic, even in today’s modern world: “Money – is the root of all evil, today.”

I’ve read your stories and when I see some of you losing your cars, your livelihoods, your homes, or are in foreclosure, about to lose them, I just get sick and angry! Our lives are no longer about monetary and material gain – the basic essence of it boils down to:

“We don’t want to lose what we have worked a lifetime to achieve.”

I wish we had the Bank of Semi;Colons – you could just walk in there and get the cash needed for your treatment, procedure or surgery – and not have to worry about all of this mess – you could just direct your energies to where they were needed – your fight.

If I were a wealthy individual, I’d devote the rest of my life to Cancer and began practicing Philanthropy – I’d make money problems just go away for deserving people such as yourselves. You would not lose your house you worked a lifetime to stay in – and you’d have your scans and surgeries without delay. Financial Stress would no longer be a part of your lives:)

For all of the Newcomers to the Board – Welcome!

For all of you that know me, thank you for taking your time to read this post and I so much am inspired by your daily struggles with this disease. I’ve learned so much by walking along side each of you everyday – your story becomes all of our stories – and by posting, you put a face and a voice to the millions of us out there, who have been diagnosed, and are marching forward in the face of adversity – with Dignity and Grace.

I’ve had this post on my mind awhile now and wanted to talk about this with you, while I still had the time to do so. I’ll have another one I want to talk about next month, as my first year on the board winds up.

This piece I wrote today was written just for you:)

Thanks for listening today and I’ll be more than glad to walk with each of you as both of us embark on the journey of self-discovery and enlightenment. Buckle your seatbelts and keep all hands and feet inside the car while it is moving:)

-Craig

khl8
Posts: 810
Joined: Nov 2009

Well said my friend, well said!

AnneCan
Posts: 3692
Joined: Oct 2009

Thanks for posting this.. it is very inspirational!

karguy's picture
karguy
Posts: 1024
Joined: Apr 2009

Thank you for your post,you hit the nail on the head.

HollyID's picture
HollyID
Posts: 951
Joined: Dec 2009

It speaks volumes to me.

My sister asked how we were doing financially. All of my other sisters are doing really well. They've decided to all pitch in and give us some $$$. I've so often said not to get cancer because you can't afford it. A screening is so much cheaper, isn't it?

tootsie1's picture
tootsie1
Posts: 5056
Joined: Feb 2008

Craig,

I always am amazed that your posts are so REAL. It's like you have been inside each of our heads. Thank you for being so free and open with your thoughts and feelings.

*hugs*
Gail

biglaur's picture
biglaur
Posts: 72
Joined: Apr 2010

You express so eloquently what we're all feeling. Laurie

sheri22
Posts: 278
Joined: Jan 2009

Craig YOU MUST HAVE READ MY MIND AND A FEW OTHERS AS WELL AS I SIT HERE WAITING FOR ANOTHER 3 WEEKS OF CHEMO. You always have the right words BY the way did you give your wife that extra hug I told you to give her I know we are going through a lot but I also know our spouses are going thru just as much and more take care Sheri22

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
Posts: 4885
Joined: May 2005

Great post Craig!
-p

lcarper2
Posts: 638
Joined: Dec 2009

I still say you need to be a writter there is abook inside of you waiting o be written....

daydreamer110761's picture
daydreamer110761
Posts: 497
Joined: Dec 2008

that's it. just...WOW! Beautifully written.

khl8
Posts: 810
Joined: Nov 2009

I agree you should write a book, you are an inspiration to us all!
Kathy

Fight for my love
Posts: 1530
Joined: Jun 2009

Fighting against cancer is a comprehensive battle.

just4Brooks's picture
just4Brooks
Posts: 988
Joined: Jun 2009

You made some good points Craig. We are loosing our house that we lived in for almost 10 years. When going through radiation, chemo, surgery, more chemo, and then more surgeries. I couldn’t work for a year. The bank (B of A) refused to help in any way even though we send the doctors paperwork stating I had cancer. I sold my hospice and paid of all of our other bills EVERYTHING!! So now we're moving to Albany Oregon so my wife can be closer to her family and well start over with no regrets!! We do have some cushion left over from the hospice so we should be okay.

Another sad sap
Brooks

daydreamer110761's picture
daydreamer110761
Posts: 497
Joined: Dec 2008

That I had a house to sell! We had been saving for a house, as it would be much cheaper that where we are renting. He has been turned down for his VA loan, as he had outstanding student loans and they want to see them paid down a bit more. even with insurance, I owe so much that my savings is about done, I was being sued for owing parts of two colonoscopies, almost didn't do the third (thank GOD I did)because I know the insurance won't cover it all. we wanted to find a less expensive place to rent, but there is no way we can come up with moving expenses and downpayments - moving would save money, but we can't. we have decided to stay another year, then look into moving to a complete different area, and hopefully the va loan will help next year. He works two jobs, I used to work 50+ hours a week until this "C" stuff got me - just can't do it anymore with the combination of kids and being tired.

Shoot - getting through the chemo was hard, but the financial part will kill ya anyway...

Aud's picture
Aud
Posts: 480
Joined: Oct 2009

Re; "It is an “Awakening” and harkens our senses to come to attention immediately. When one looks across the table at Mortality, all senses come alive like they have never been so before. You know, at that moment, that this is for keeps – you know it’s for real then." --Craig

Beautifully said, Craig. I remember this keenly when I was diagnosed in August of '09.
By the way, I had a delicious "slice of pie" yesterday while walking in the Azalea Garden in Fairmount Park, near the Philadelphia Art Museum. So many different colors of flowers, fragrant magnolia trees, and another fragrant tree that I couldn't identify.

We are lucky/blessed to have each other to join in this fight. I have had it "easy" so far; still, the lingering thought of recurrence is always there. Not dominating my thoughts or taking up precious life time, just kinda there, in the shadows.

But if I need to don my boxing gloves, I know what corner to go in.

Thanks for being there -- for all of us.

~Aud

Sundanceh's picture
Sundanceh
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

I wanted to take just a minute and thank everyone for their comments and thoughts for this post. It's always nice to read what everyone has to say - those make my day:)

Aud
Thanks for your warmth - that was a pretty good line - and it sums it all up succintly. Thank you for your continued support.

Sherrie (daydreamer)
It's nice to see you around, have missed you. Glad you enjoyed reading this.

Anne
I'm also glad that you got something from this, as well. Thank you for being there with me.

Kathy and Louann
Your encouragement for me to write a book has me thinking - what would we title it? Thank you both for your kind words.

Phil
I'm honored to see you on the post - thanks for your support too.

Sheri22
So good to see you too, thanks for your nice post.

Laurie
So nice to finally meet you - I appreciate what you had to say to me.

Karguy
Thanks again for your support - you've always been there.

Holly
Hi darlin' - makes me feel good that I did speak to you. You know I tried.

Gail
You light up my life when you post - thank you so much for your thoughts. You've been so kind to me and so supportive about what I have written. I love you for that.

Brooks
I continue to get to know you and am saddened to read about your house situation. Just what I was writing back and now it's happening to you. Wish I could send you a sackful of cash, but it sounds like you will be around family.

Thanks so much everyone - I learned alot of that during my battles when I was alone, before the board. Those were the thoughts dancing in my head, trying to find a way out - trying to find an ear and someone who understood. I'm glad to be able to now share that with you.

Thank you one and all for being there and taking the time to read when I do post something.

Take care
-Craig

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