Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tears of a...

I let myself cry like a child over my illness today. I did everything except throw myself to the floor and pound the carpet with balled fists. I let myself complain about cancer: I moaned that I was too young, that it wasn't fair, that I couldn't stand the anguish of everyone I love let alone my own pain, that I was tired.......
This is a voice I rarely allow myself to speak -- scream -- with.

When I was first diagnosed, sent shocked and spinning by the unreality of it all, one simple question persistently bubbled into my mind, and I grabbed on to that query and let it buoy me as events and anxiety churned around me ever higher.

It was: How do I want to live?


It was such a liberating idea: I was seriously ill, yes, but I had a choice -- a multitude of them, every day -- and I could use the intensity of living a life at risk as a tool to find better answers. I might not get all the life I wanted, but I could get closer to being the person I wanted. This question, unlike most of the other ones swirling around -- what second opinions should we get? is this treatment going to work? how long am I going to live? -- had answers, my answers. And the conclusions I drew from it pointed toward life instead of death.
We know that fairness has nothing to do with cancer, and that thinking about one's situation in those terms is a dangerous distraction; it's the signpost that points toward disengagement and death instead of acceptance and life. Yes, it's not "fair" that I got sick at 34 and my kids and wife won't get to spend the time with me they deserve. It also wasn't "fair" that I was born vastly more wealthy than 99 percent of the world's population, or that children in Africa are dying unnecessarily as I type this, or 20-year-olds are coming home from wars with multiple amputations, or...

Feeling this way, knowing these things, makes it very hard for me to just straight-up unabashedly feel sorry for myself. (Or at least to admit to feeling that way.)

That's a good thing most of the time.

But even though my eyes feel like they've been rubbed in sand and I have a headache, I'm glad I let myself bawl for my body and my life without an intellectual screen filtering out "improper" thoughts. I still ask myself all the time, "How do I want to live?", and that question will, at times, inspire me to push myself off the couch with both fists and find one of the children to embrace. But one way I don't want to live is to be in such strict control of my thoughts and emotions that I never let myself express an intellectually nonsensical feeling. Fairness has nothing to do with cancer -- but today I felt like it did, and I let myself say that and cry for the loss of the life that I imagined I would have.

Right now, though, I'm going to get back to work.


Elsa D. said...

Dear S.G. I am just sending a hug. I have been feeling like screaming also.
I hope Brivanib starts shrinking the tumors FAST, now that you are not on the placebo.
After I stopped Brivanib mine grew 3 cm in 3 weeks... so Brivanib was doing something after all.

Kathy said...

Hugs from me too. I feel the same way sometimes. Let's hope that the Brivanib beats the B---d's back a little bit. My thoughts are with you.