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This Book is Becoming More About "US" Than Me ***** REVISED EXCERPT ****

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

I just experienced a pretty emotional moment and felt so strongly about it that I had to stop writing and come here for a minute. That's how strong it is. Got me choking up and teary eyes, even as I write here to you trying to tell you about it.

I'm deep into Chapter XI "Recurrence" and it's another in a long saga of chapters that I'm trying so hard to write my way out of. There are several chaptes that have completely engulfed me as I re-trace the steps of my own journey.

But, what am I discovering along the way?

Well, many things I'm going to need another post to talk about it. But, I'm having another epiphany this morning. As I'm writing this chapter and examing the future chapters and the things I'm going to say in them, I'm finding out THIS BOARD has made a huger impact on my life and the story that I want to tell - more than I ever could have envisoned when I started this project.

It's been so hard to go back through some of this - by doing it, though I'm bringing a fresh perspective and a newer realism to anything that I've ever said here on this forum.

I'm finding that my story is your story - and that we are all so intertwined together with this experience. I cannot tell my side without telling your side. There are so many stories of us in the book, I'm quite surprised and delighted.

Because, it's because of you that I have formed my opinions and honed my perspectives on the way that I see things in 2011. Without you, perhaps this book does not deliver the same punch or carry with it the same impact.

What happened this morning, Craig?

In the recurrence chapter, I dialed back to the first six-months of the board, which I've referred to as "The Honeymoon Period." We are hunky dorey, living our lives, sharing our experiences, forming strong bonds and making life-lasting friendships, and oh, BTW, we were fighting cancer and sharing our strategies as well.

It was nirvana and it was heaven for me - people I had longed to meet who felt the same as I did and shared similar feelings. And then I was writing that after that, folks began to pass away....

....and the thoughts and emotions over came by and still are as I type this.

Oh my! I'm pulling out all of the stoppers and am so "emotionally invested" with this project. At times, it just all seems to be so much. It's hard to cram 7-years worth of my experience and put it into chapters that folks will hopefully relate to.

I'm trying to calm down - wow! I just don't know if I can put this into words.

Thinking of our fallen members has taken on additional meaning and I just wanted to talk to you a minute.

I'll leave you now - but I want to talk some more about this - because I'm on another journey, and I want every single one of you by my side - and in my heart, so I can finish out the last 30% of the chapters that remain - if I can make it through the Recurrence chapter, LOL LOL!

See, talking to you has made me feel better? I'm still looking for you and posting where I can. This book has taken on a life of its own.

I like the material - I like the direction its taking - I feel I'm writing at the highest level of my life. When I read through it, I no longer see myself, although you will probably recognize me. Some of the thoughts even sound credible, LOL!

I guess I've just realized how you are all a big part of my life - and a huge influence as well.

We must find a way to get this into print - this one has the potential to knock the literary door right off its hinges, but you know I'm biased:) I want so much to have your feedback - I get that with a post, but as I'm writing, I don't get that same feel.

But I think you will like it, I don't know. I'm talking about the hard stuff - there are some new topics - some new ones that you and I have not discovered on the board, but will in the chapters. There's also a few lines that you've probably heard too, LOL!

Ok, guys! Thank you for letting me get that out and settle down. What a rocket ship ride this is - I can barely keep all hands and feet inside the car while it is moving, you know?

Epiphanies and Catharcisms are what I'm experiencing right now...and I feel that I'm in yet another growth spurt, that has become the essential ingredient to the validation of my writings in this book.

I want to thank you again for your encouragement in getting me over the hump and making me feel like somebody that I never was before I came here.

How do I thank you for that?

Well, read the book and I think you find us spread throughout the chapters.

My best to you as always -

-Craig the "WannaBe Author"

P.S. Here is an excerpt from Chapter XI "Recurrence." Keep in mind it is a still a work in progress - but then again, so am I, LOL:)

[Along this “Path to Enlightenment”, I would find that I would be stumbling to a different tune in the coming future. The first six-months were ‘Nirvana.’ We were all friends with cancer sharing our lives, helping each other, and laughing where we could. It seemed like the greatest place to be in the world. How could anything here ever go wrong? How could anything ever happen to my friends, whom I cherished and treasured?

How, indeed?

After the first six-months, which we can colloquially call “The Honeymoon Period”, a new dawn rose and showed itself to me. One by one, my friends started to pass away.

I began to ask myself if I would have been better off never having found the cancer board? Did it do me more harm than good? Did the benefits outweigh the risks and heartbreak? Would life without the cancer board, combined with my own naïveté, have given me a better chance at mental survival by not seeing what I had seen happen to my friends? Would I have been better off not knowing as opposed to knowing?

Or was I better off at seeing the pointed realities and reaching a level of understanding at what the true realities of being a stage IV meant?

Certainly, these are very difficult questions to answer.

In the final conclusion, I can honestly say that I am ever so glad that I did find the cancer board and have taken the time to get to know so many wonderful people and their stories, both past and present.

For it is through them, that cemented the idea that as with any competition, some of us are going to win, while some of us do not. We never really do know where that fine line is that separates those two potential paths in our journey. But, by seeing all of the possible realities that could occur] (PENDING....I HAD TO STOP)

All my love - Craig

biz
Posts: 60
Joined: Jul 2011

You are writing a book?! That is so incredibly awesome! I enjoyed your exerpt. Keep it up!
-Biz

johnnybegood's picture
johnnybegood
Posts: 1122
Joined: Oct 2008

you for doing this.when you started this journey i had a feeling it would be hard to relive the past 7 years.heck i used to have issues dwelling on first being diagnosed and now that i have had a recurrence each day is a blessing.a blessing just to get up ,breathe and live one day at a time.you will make it thru this and just remember your friends on this board will help you just as we always have....Godbless...johnnybegood

Lovekitties's picture
Lovekitties
Posts: 3327
Joined: Jan 2010

Very glad to hear that you contiue to write your/our story.

Yes, the hardest thing about being here is seeing ones we have come to know as friends pass on. But you know what? Every single one of them has given us so much while they were here. How can we be anything but glad to have known them?

Thanks for sharing a part of the story here. I am anxious for you to finish and get published. Maybe you will get a book tour going and be able to get around the country to give a personal "Howdy" to all of us who will be standing in line for an autographed copy.

Hugs and love,

Marie who loves kitties

pepebcn's picture
pepebcn
Posts: 6352
Joined: Aug 2010

go ahead mate!.
Hugs!

buckeye2
Posts: 428
Joined: Jul 2011

As a newcomer to the Board, it is often times difficult to respond to those of you who have been at this awhile. I have insufficient experience to offer much. When I read posts from those who are not getting good news, I wonder about whether or not the Board is good for my own attitude. I realize that what I hope for is that I need this Board for a long time so that I can do what you do,help those newcomers who are so scared. Thanks.

Nana b's picture
Nana b
Posts: 3045
Joined: May 2009

I'll buy it!

It sounds terrific! Thanks for including us in your thoughts, it seems like many days I wake up and think of everyone on this board, even before I plant my foot on the carpet. If now that I have been NED for two years, you are always on my mind! Great job!

rogina2336
Posts: 188
Joined: Apr 2011

The book sounds like it is going to be totally amazing!! Can't wait!!!! Hopes and Prayers Kim

lisa42's picture
lisa42
Posts: 3661
Joined: Jul 2008

Craig,

I don't know how you could write such a book and not go through the feelings you're going through! It is definitely a process. You are a good writer and very introspective, and that comes out in all you write and say.

I can't wait until you finish the book- I'll be in line to buy it and read it.

Hugs,
Lisa

plh4gail's picture
plh4gail
Posts: 1238
Joined: Oct 2010

You're doing great Craig! I can't believe how you have hit it all how it felt for me also in the beginning and now me only after 1 year. I know it's emotional for you, I have a hard time dusting off my journal I kept while going through treatment. I want to write in it some more thoughts but it feels so intimidating to me, like its someone elses book, not mine to write in.

peacelove&happiness to you, gail

pete43lost_at_sea's picture
pete43lost_at_sea
Posts: 3908
Joined: Nov 2010

craig,

thanks for saying it so well. i just reached 99 kg, the last time was oct 2010 when i got out from my first surgery. before that it was when i was 18 and had just completed the 26 day outward bound survival course in the aussie bush.

so for 25 years i have been overweight, towards the end just plain obese.

today i am fitter, stronger, leaner then i have ever been, this board and the support i have received has been overwelming. my walking post helps me mainly and the few who share the passion to exercise. the idea to make it public, is to demonstrate clearly its cool to do extra things your doctors may not advise to survive.

the DETERMINATION i have is influenced by my fragile awareness of my mortality. which is painfully ever present here especially. For me john, kerry, mary, rodger are friends i walk with everday. there lives interwined with mine. my mortality reflected inescapabily in there passing, and my risks clear before me.

its not uncommon that we have the similair reflections we are going through similar experiences, each of us is very unique, so different socially, genetically, geographically, financially and yet the same as we are all being challenged by the crc monkey.

Now I won't roll over and let the Monkey win, every single walk buys 9.12 days for me, i throw the monkey off my back when i hit the gym or the footpath.

i smile as i have the mental image of the crc monkey hitting its head on the footpath and scurrying up a tree cursing me.

here's to another day brother, i hope we all use it well.

hugs,
pete

Annabelle41415's picture
Annabelle41415
Posts: 6184
Joined: Feb 2009

Your excerpt was awesome. You are such a good writer and knew that this is the path you should have taken with your journey. There are many out there that will gain the knowledge you have and experiences you went through just by reading your book. Can't wait for it to be published and say I got his magazine and now have his book :) Great job.

Hugs! Kim

ron50's picture
ron50
Posts: 1721
Joined: Nov 2001

I agree that there is an undefined line between survival and non survival in our fight against cancer. When Iwas dx back in late 97 and operated on in Jan 98,It was very easy to ask the question "why me?". Now some 13+ years later the question remains just as relevant,why am I still alive"why me?". I joined the board in Nov 2001. Prior to that I was involved in my own group of survivors that I had met during my 12 mos of chemo. Why did i come here? Because all my friends were gone,lost their battles.
The fight against cancer is a very lonely affair,we are enriched by the frienships we make here but we are diminished each time one of our favourite friends loses the battle. We say to each other that at least we have our memories but how soon they fade with the long term effects the chemo has on our brains. I have enough trouble rememberring yesterday and it really upsets me when I struggle to remember the face of a lost friend.
I guess for me the greatest asset I have is acceptance. I accept that I had cancer and now I don't. I accept that despite my wishes to the contrary,quite a few of my friends will not win the battle. I accept that there are two main groups of survivors those that KNOW how to survive and those that DON'T. I accept that I should treat them with equal respect and not question their belief be it religious ,substance,excercise, foods or what ever. Whatever gets you thru the night. I accept that I am not really the right person to offer advice to anyone regarding survival. Why did I survive,because I KNEW I would. How do you quantify that.
What is my greatest regret about cancer...I started reading a series of novels by Robert Jourdan. He suffered from amyloidosis,a rare disease in which certain feral proteins can't be expelled by the body and build up in vital organs. He wrote 13 novels in the series,each quite large. My greatest fear was that I would die before I read the last book. That changed,I then feared that he would die before he wrote the last book and he did. Another author is finishing his work. It's just not the same.
So Craig all speed to your writing,congratulations on what you have accomplihed so far and in anticipation of what is to come, Ron(cancers accidental tourist).

LivinginNH's picture
LivinginNH
Posts: 1458
Joined: Apr 2010

Craig,as always, your posts are always so insightful and full of personal strength, truly a joy to read. Keep up the good work my friend - it's going to be a great book! - Cyn

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

I appreciate everybody's feedback so far. I was in a hurry this morning scribbling down those thoughts as they were racing through my head so fast, I could not keep up with the typing. Emotions caught me off-guard and that was very difficult - I was trying to hold everything in so people would not see this guy over there, choking up with tears streaming down his face. I had to cover up and then had to walk away from it - when I posted to the board it came again for round #2. Thought I wouldn't even get the post written.

I'm going to tweak it some more - I liked the idea but I can do better with my wording, just need a few more moments to say it the way I want to say it.

But, it is strange how I started out with my concepts in mind and a certain way that I was going to write it, but I find that I'm transitioning away from that and doing things in a little bit different way, that I think will be unique for our friends, whom we have yet to meet.

I just realized how the Board and our community has touched me - has affected me - has changed the way I think from watching others battle on with different methods and protocols etc. etc.

I probably never really said but my "3rd Dance with Cancer" this past year really blew me up and forever altered the way I think - the way I feel - and how I see things in such a different way than when I was going through the journey alone with none of us to compare notes with.

I mention in the book about "Having a Sounding Board" in which to bounce off of. Watching my friends pass before me, while I'm still here has made a bigger impact now, than perhaps they did at the time of their passing.

And the combination of my own recurrence this past year and seeing others go, always get one to thinking. Thus my examination of "why them and not me."

Once I get the wording done, I'll post that "revised" version of the excerpt from the start to the end of just that thought. We'll see if it sounds better.

It is really much harder doing this than I originally thought - much different than throwing a few ideas out for a post. To get it where I need to go, I've had to jump back in and get back in tune with and relive it entirely, even though some days it nearly kills me...but it must be done, or it will never happen.

I'm an idiot - most people would be celebrating a watch and wait moment, but not me....I'm just a big dope, because with cancer...."I like it - I love it - I want some more of it." LOL!

It's just that these chapters can be so overwhelming and you just thought my posts were bad, LOL! But, I get in them so deep, that I find it hard to write my out of there and close it out. Lots of days, I'm just emotionally spent, but maybe that means I did good?

We're talking so many things, it's hard to keep track of them all.

Please stay with me and walk with me on this portion of all of our journeys. We've done the web, the newspaper, the local news, and the magazine. Those were wonderful experiences, and I hope that this project will really take off and get us more exposure and maybe put a face with this disease - I don't mind.

When I first started, many of you might recall one of my favorite lines:

"Cancer does not define me, but how I fight and live with cancer does define me."

Been awhile since I used that one.

But, I don't feel that way anymore. I think as more time goes by and especially if the books does get published, that I will be know for cancer - that cancer will define who I am. And you know what? I'm ok with that too, now. My life is cancer and it's from cancer, that I will be known for in my life - at work, at home, on the board, and maybe the public.

But, I'm not ashamed of that. It's who I am now and what I've become. And I plan to use cancer to turn the tables on itself by exposing every hidden orifice that I can find. Cancer should have finished me off when it had the chance - and now it's my time to hit back.

Thank you all so much - we will be talking soon. No scans for 2 months and we'll hopefully still be watching and waiting. But, I'm not resting, I've got the hammer down and will be working on this project as it is my current inspiration.

I'll just be so proud to share it with you all.

So, stay tuned to the Sundance Channel - "Story Matters Here."

-Craig

dorookie
Posts: 1736
Joined: Jul 2007

other than you are just Awesome. I remember reading your post from years ago, and then and still today I always said you should write a book, and well here you are writing that book, and not just for you, but for all of us here and for the FIGHT that others will have to endure as well, so Thank you Craig!

Cant wait to see you in Oct!!

HUGS
Beth

Kathryn_in_MN's picture
Kathryn_in_MN
Posts: 1258
Joined: Sep 2009

"and now it's my time to hit back." HIT IT HARD! I'm glad you are doing this, and continually learning as you go. I am anxiously awaiting the chance to read your book one day!

Fight for my love
Posts: 1530
Joined: Jun 2009

Your words made me sobbing and laugh.You spoke out what I feel,you are my spokesman.Hope your book go smoothly and publish soon.Take care.

angelsbaby's picture
angelsbaby
Posts: 1171
Joined: May 2008

ALL I CAN SAY IS RIGHT ON THAT IS AWSOME

MICHELLE

pluckey's picture
pluckey
Posts: 484
Joined: Jul 2009

Hello Sweet Craig
I'm sneaking a peak at the message board at work but wanted to at least tell you I am so looking forward to meeting you in person at ColonPalooza!

You can hold a Book Reading! or we can be your editors and help edit chapters too!

You are amazing and we will all help figure out how to get this story told, published and have you being interviewed on the Today Show!

((hugs))

Peggy

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

Just wait till Matt Lauer and Ann Curry get a load of me:)

LOL LOL LOL !!!

I've waited a year to live again - I've waited a year to be with my friends again - I've waited a year...and I can't wait.

"Big Hugs"
-Craig

pete43lost_at_sea's picture
pete43lost_at_sea
Posts: 3908
Joined: Nov 2010

We chatted by satellite a week after my big surgery.
Hugs,
Pete
Ps the book is a great idea

Kathleen808's picture
Kathleen808
Posts: 2361
Joined: Jan 2009

Craig,
Keep writing. You're incredible. You are giving a voice to so much of what everyone goes through.

Aloha,
Kathleen

jjaj133's picture
jjaj133
Posts: 869
Joined: Mar 2011

congratulations Craig,
It sounds great and as hard as it is to go through, your are going through a kind of cleansing. When it is done you will probably break down and have another good cry. But you will also feel that a burden has been lifted.
I can't wiat to read it. God Bless
Judy

a

SandyL
Posts: 220
Joined: Feb 2009

So glad that you took the advise of so many here and are pursuing the book.
I know that you have the excellent abiity to complete this challenge and it will
indeed be a gift to so many who are currently fighting the big C and give
them hope. Your writing comes from your heart and that is the best you can give.
Whenever I see a post from you; I know that its "for real".
You've certainly been our rock, here.
Sandy

lizzydavis's picture
lizzydavis
Posts: 893
Joined: May 2009

Hi Craig,

I can certainly relate to what you have written and that is why it is very special to me and the others here. Cancer survivors everywhere can benefit from it. Thank you for working so hard on it. I can't wait to read it from cover to cover. By the way, any chance we will see a new picture soon? lol

Love and hugs,
Lizzy

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

Why? You don't like the current pic? LOL!

Big Billy is going to be so hurt and crushed. LOL!

He got all dressed up and posed for the pic and everything - he was so excited.

Well, we'll see what I can do in the near future.

-Big Billy aka Craig

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

You ask universal questions here that are part of the human condition.

"I began to ask myself if I would have been better off never having found the cancer board?"

I know it's not exactly the same; I have asked similar questions which have been asked by others throughout time. Is it better to have loved and lost or to never have loved at all? I once wrote an essay in college with the theme: is it better to have freedom and lose it? or to never know freedom at all?

In relationships (lovers, marriages, parent/child, friends, people/pets, siblings....), there is risk of losing and pain. Maybe I haven't experienced enough pain to know any better but I inevitably come to this conclusion: I am happy to have known and to have loved all those who are in and have been in my life.

You have examined this yourself in Chapter XI and it is.....Beautiful.

~Aud

(P.S. I will be in line.)

jams67's picture
jams67
Posts: 927
Joined: May 2006

Thanks for writing the book Craig.
The conclusion I came to that helped me most was realizing what "Thy will be done" actually meant and leaving the angst up to God. Ultimately, it is not up to me. I can help, the docs can help, you guys are a big help, but relax and know that there is a bigger picture. I think I was very anxious about "what if" for a long time, and now know that we all die of something.

coolvdub's picture
coolvdub
Posts: 410
Joined: Aug 2009

Craig,

Looking forward to the day the book comes out. Your journey has been long and hard fought. I wish I had your reserves. As usual, you are an isnpiration. Have you ever considered a career as a motivational speaker. I'm sure you would be a hit.

Don

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

Hey Buddy

Wouldn't it be embarassing when I opened my mouth and people realized that I didn't know "nuthin'" LOL!

That type of spinoff would certainly be something though - thanks for your confidence as always, Don:)

Be cool 'till I see you
-Craig

jams67's picture
jams67
Posts: 927
Joined: May 2006

Don,
Wish there was a like button on this site. You are right, Craig would make a great inspirational speaker!
Jo Ann

jams67's picture
jams67
Posts: 927
Joined: May 2006

Don,
Wish there was a like button on this site. You are right, Craig would make a great inspirational speaker!
Jo Ann

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

Hey, Craig.

Have I told you recently how dear you are? You are PRECIOUS to me! I cannot wait to read your book!

*hugs*
Gail

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

You sure did, sweetheart - TONIGHT as a matter of fact!

And it feels so good too:)

"Big Hugs"
-Craig

merrysmom's picture
merrysmom
Posts: 51
Joined: Jun 2011

i am new on this board but you are a giant blessing. you have so touched my heart. i run in circles some days being so scared. you made me feel stronger. when your book comes out i will be reading it. God bless you for who you are. your friend, barb

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

Ok, I think I've got it now. I knew I could do better.

This is a feel good portion of the chapter and the book, because it talks of my self-discovery in meeting and intertwining my life with yours, for those that have let me in.

The 'Recurrence' chapter is the longest so far at about 28 typed pages. The excerpt represents only a few pages, but carries a powerful meaning. There is a lot more to it than just the excerpt, but I thought I would keep it lite and share this nice portion with you.

So, the "Semi;Colons" will make the book and you are a big part of my story, which as we're seeing is slowly but surely, becoming our story, after all. HAPPY READING - let me know what you think:)

REVISED EXCERPT BELOW:

[ I know this past recurrence shook up my belief system in a big way and forced me to begin questioning my future and challenged the thought process on my ideas of what I thought I knew about cancer.

It instilled inside me a deeper level of self-doubt and caused my confidence to stumble somewhat this past year for the first time. It also revealed to me the “Ugly Side of Cancer” that nobody wants to talk about and exposed certain truths and realities that have taken me to places I never knew existed.

Watching my other stage IV friends on the cancer board pass away before my very eyes gave me pause to begin thinking I actually might not make it and gave rise to the eternal question – “When Will the End Be for Me?”

Prior to find the cancer board, I don’t think I truly believed that I would die. The “Thought of Dying” was certainly a topic I pondered and shuddered when I thought too deeply about it, but I still figured it would happen to somebody else and not to me.

After all, I still had not personally witnessed the destructive powers that cancer had on the big stage. I did see a guy pass away at my cancer center in my early days, and it was the first inkling to me that something could go wrong with any of us during our struggles.

Then, of course, there was the cancer board that I happened to stumble upon one day when I was doing some research on lung surgeries.

Through this forum, I formed deep and meaningful relationships and friendships and became “Emotionally Invested” with everyone’s lives and their cancer fights, so now cancer took on a different shape – a shape that defined a person with an avatar picture and their story that was looking back at me every day. These are folks who had a life and families – folks who had hopes and dreams – and folks who had aspirations, with plans for their futures.

And now, they were my friends – as real to me as anyone that I ever met face-to-face.

Cancer really got ‘personal’ with me after that. In reading the posts of everyone’s lives, it became abundantly clear to me that we all share the same tears and fears, as well as the smiles and the trials. The only thing that separated us was where we are at in our individual cancer battles.

I saw folks going down the paths I had already been down and they needed help. In my mind, I thought I could help them with the things I had been through on the physical, mental and emotional levels with this disease. My desire became my mission to provide hope, inspiration, and friendship to others who were looking for that.

This was very important as the first five years of my cancer diagnosis; I learned everything the hard way – by trial and error and had no one I could share my experiences with.

After finding this “Oasis in the Desert”, I felt if I could be here to help lessen their burdens, validate their concerns, and try and be a friend to them in their hour of need, then this was the place that I needed to be and more importantly, where I wanted to be. I could not unpack my suitcases quickly enough and my life has changed forever, as a result.

From time to time, my friends have been very gracious and told me that I have been able to help them and they do value my input and support. I’ve found that this gives me the greatest satisfaction that’s left for me in today’s world. Next to providing for my family, they are the reason that I get up everyday.

While traveling along this “Path to Enlightenment”, I would discover that I would find myself stumbling along to a different tune in the coming days. The first six-months were Nirvana to me and I loved being there with everybody so much that I began to see a time when I could no longer imagine a world without them in it.

We were all friends here in our little corner of the world, and everything was wonderful. We were building life-long friendships and developing very strong bonds, we were propping each other up when we were down, we were sharing helpful information and strategies about our cancer fights, and we were laughing and joking wherever we could, while sharing the intimate side of our lives with one another.

It seemed like the greatest place in the world to be. How could anything here ever go wrong? How could anything ever happen to my new found friends, whom I had forged such strong feelings for, and whose relationships I treasured and cherished, in a way that no one but them could ever really understand?

How, indeed?

After the first six-months, which we can colloquially call “The Honeymoon Period”, a new dawn rose and started showing me the other side. It was the other side that I did not want to acknowledge, yet I knew existed.

It was ‘The Side’ that I somehow felt we were immune to and would never touch us as long as we remained together. I just figured we would go along ‘living with cancer’ and that all would be ok in our world forever.

“What happened?”

One by one, my friends began to pass away.

After a couple of years of this, and as the pain of each fallen member became another sobering reminder of what we were really up against, I looked deep inside myself and began to have more questions than answers.

I began by asking myself the following questions:

“Would I have been better off never having found the cancer board?”

“Was it doing me more harm than good?”

“Did the benefits I was gaining, outweigh the risks and heartbreak that I was now beginning to feel?”

“Would life without the cancer board, along with my own innocence, have given me a better chance towards mental survival if I had not seen first hand what I was witnessing happen to my friends?”

“Would I have been better off ‘not knowing’ as opposed to ‘knowing’?”

Or…

“Was I better off at seeing the pointed realities of this disease and reaching a deeper level of understanding at what the true meaning of being a stage IV really meant?”

Certainly, these are very difficult questions to answer.

I’m reminded of the last conversation that I had with my first oncologist on our last consult, to go over some scan results. He told me that he was seeing “A Calm” over me that he had never seen before during our five-year relationship.

I told him there was good reason for that. I explained that I had joined a cancer support board and that my life was now so full and enriched from the experiences I was having and that helping people go through what I had been through was the ‘missing link’ in my life.

And then he told me, “But, Craig, some of them are not going to make it.”

I was stunned and sat there in silence, giving him the look that he must be crazy or something. I thought, well, you just don’t know my friends.”

“But he did know, didn’t he?”

He knew what I would not permit myself to believe – he knew what I did not have the perspective in place to understand, even at that time, where I was beginning to enter that next growth spurt of my journey. That phase where I thought I had a good handle on the situation and knew what there was that I needed to know.

I didn’t know – but he knew.

A short time thereafter, as more and more folks began to fall by the wayside, I saw the swath of destruction that cancer had on real lives and what was left in its wake when it was all over.

I felt powerless to stop it, yet all I could do was watch it happen. My words seemed so hollow and empty to me right now. What good were they really? There were many days where I asked myself why am I doing this, if this was going to be the end result.

The pain of losing people you had recently met and felt so alive and connected with, were now gone, when only moments before they had been here with all of us in the community. This was just beginning to be too much to handle and it was like the dam had burst and none of us could contain the flood waters any longer.

I guess, in my own innocence, I thought I could ‘save them’ and when I realized that I could not, it was yet, another step in my progression towards awareness and a very painful lesson, that is still very hard to accept, even to this day.

As the losses continued to pile up, I thought maybe I should walk away from the board and once again shut the door to my heart, which I had exposed upon my arrival here.

I could not bring myself to leave my new family and walk out of my friend’s lives. That’s not what friends do. I owed these people my allegiance, because they believed in me so much and they showed me what it was really like to have a friend – and more importantly, to be a friend.

And I found that I liked having friends and wanted to be their friend, no matter what the cost was that had to be paid.

I began to think that our fallen friends had worked so hard and struggled with so many issues in their fights, that WE as a community, had the moral obligation to not only mourn their passing, but also to continue on with our fights, as they would have wanted us to, so they would know that they did not die in vain, and that their stories would never be forgotten.

We must always keep a vigil for them and never forget who they were as individuals – the impacts that they made on our lives – and the legacies that they left us with. For if we keep them forever in our hearts, then they truly will never perish.

By picking up the flag and fighting even harder than we had before, we not only acknowledge our friends lives and their battles, but we also honor their memories, as they certainly would have done for us.

It has been said, that one can “Share a Lifetime in a Short Time” and I have a much greater appreciation of that thought now than ever before, even though the lesson came at the expense of my friend’s lives, in order for me to grasp this concept and finally come to terms with it.

I know my life has been blessed and my soul has been enriched every single day by knowing these folks. I feel very strongly that it was better having known them and becoming involved with their lives, than to sit idly by on the sidelines and never have gotten to know them at all.

They have become a part of me and I know that I was a part of them - how could there ever be anything wrong about that?

In the final analysis, I can honestly say that I am ever so glad that I did stumble onto the cancer board that day and invested the time it takes to get to know so many wonderful people and their stories – both past and present.

For it is through them and their examples, that cemented the idea that as with any type of competition, there are going to be some of us that come out on top, while others of us do not. The fine line that separates those possible paths in our journey will always be a mystery, not only for us and our loves ones, but also for our medical teams that care for us.

Cancer has taken off my rose colored glasses and in its place, has replaced it with the glaring affirmation that there is “No Single Answer to Cancer” – and no clear path that gets us there either. ]

mukamom's picture
mukamom
Posts: 402
Joined: Oct 2010

I wish I could put my thoughts and feelings and exeperiences into words like that...You have such a special gift and I thank you for taking the time to share with us, and soon...everybody!! I want a copy for Robert's oncologist's office, for the treatment room.

Thanks,
Angela

johnnybegood's picture
johnnybegood
Posts: 1122
Joined: Oct 2008

craig you are truly talented.in 2008 during my first journey my mom(wolfen)found this site for me.i am so grateful that she found it even though i sit on the side lines a lot when i truly need someone to listen to me this board is always open.now that i am in my second journey with cancer i have got to know you better and i just want you to know that i truly hope you are a part of my cheering section.keep on writing and sign me up for a copy when your done....Godbless....johnnybegood

sharpy102's picture
sharpy102
Posts: 370
Joined: Apr 2009

I dunno what to say...*sigh*...I mean, don't take me wrong, Craig. I am very proud of you, and I am glad you are doing something that you enjoy and want to do...I just feel that people tend to think, "oh heck! Those who left they left" and they all forget about them...I feel this all the time...I guess I'm just the one being stuck...but I'm still searching and hoping that Mom will tap on my window one night to let her in...will this feeling ever go away? I don't know....anyway, sorry. I am very proud of you and keep up the writing!!! Take care! - Sophie

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

Well, thank you so much. I remember posting to you a couple of times when I first started, but we did not get to know one another during that time. I'm getting to know you better as well, you know I understand the feelings on all levels that you are going through.

So, you bet I'm a part of your cheering section from here on in. I know you've got liver surgery in just 3 weeks or so and we'll circle the wagons for a successful outcome.

-Craig

Marianne313
Posts: 124
Joined: Mar 2011

you can tell I'm not as good with words as you are, wow, is about as good as I can express. I enjoyed your writing and the feelings that were so eloquently expressed in your exerpt. I am looking forward to reading the entire book, that I have no doubt you will finish.

Thank you so much for sharing with me (with us).

Marianne

lesvanb's picture
lesvanb
Posts: 911
Joined: May 2008

"I began to think that our fallen friends had worked so hard and struggled with so many issues in their fights, that WE as a community, had the moral obligation to not only mourn their passing, but also to continue on with our fights, as they would have wanted us to, so they would know that they did not die in vain, and that their stories would never be forgotten.

We must always keep a vigil for them and never forget who they were as individuals – the impacts that they made on our lives – and the legacies that they left us with. For if we keep them forever in our hearts, then they truly will never perish.

By picking up the flag and fighting even harder than we had before, we not only acknowledge our friends lives and their battles, but we also honor their memories, as they certainly would have done for us."

Didn't think I'd cry, but did.

Ride on, my friend,
Leslie

P.S. Looking forward to meeting you in person at CP-9!

jjaj133's picture
jjaj133
Posts: 869
Joined: Mar 2011

listen, and you will hear me applauding through my tears.
close your eyes and feel me hugging you.
thank you for sharing.
judy

Annabelle41415's picture
Annabelle41415
Posts: 6184
Joined: Feb 2009

Your revised version was excellent however, the first one was great too. I'm not a writer, but you put it into words that I've always felt, but never could get on paper. I'm so very proud of you. Hope you are feeling better.

Kim

pepebcn's picture
pepebcn
Posts: 6352
Joined: Aug 2010

Thankyou for wrigting my own thoughts and my own story!
God belss you!

marqimark's picture
marqimark
Posts: 242
Joined: Jun 2011

I haven't been here for long and I have been NED since my surgery 3/10 and Dx 3c. Went through chemo from 4/10 thru 11/10.

I feel, maybe because I am so early in my journey, that I haven't suffered enough to comment on these boards.

That said, I like your project and hope it is a great success beyond these boards.

Mark

dorookie
Posts: 1736
Joined: Jul 2007

However new you are you are still apart of this community and family, and I for one, hope and pray that you suffer no more, there is no race or prize for those who suffer more, infact I think it should be just the opposite, a prize for those who suffer less, that is what I am praying for...Believe me, what you have gone through is way more than anyone should have to and like I said I pray you will not have to suffer from this crap anymore.

HUGS
Beth

thingy45's picture
thingy45
Posts: 633
Joined: Apr 2011

Craig,
After a little vacation I come back to the board and find your awesome chapters of your book. I have been a writer for years, nothing big, just stories for magazines but I am working on a novel. Not about cancer. What you let us read is fantastic, you are our voice at the moment and let us feel the pain you suffered deep in our core so real you display the feelings.
As I said before in a post you are my inspiration and I look up to you in many ways as I do to some other people here on the board. I am in my first year of cancer and really know nothing about the suffering and pain you and others have experienced.
I also be standing in line to buy the book. If I could I would have been at the P9, maybe next year and then expect a big hug from this fan.
Hug, Marjan

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