The human condition amazes me. I don’t know why, but I’m still constantly floored by the compulsion so many people have to fill a silence with inane chatter that makes no sense. Sure, maybe they are trying to “help,” but, more often than not, they end up sounding idiotic.
As a cancer patient, I hear things that are, at best, silly and, more often than not, plain dumb. I won’t go into them here because I don’t want to offend others. (I know; I’m getting soft in my old age…)
However, I will share the following tidbit from a good friend who recently “sat shiva” for her mother who died. (“Shiva” refers to the initial seven-day mourning period per Jewish tradition, where mourners stay at home and are visited by others who come to console them. The word “sitting” is added, as the mourner sits on a low chair as s/he receives visitors.)
Guest: How did you know that your mother wanted to be buried in Israel?
Friend: Well, she told me personally right before she died. We were very fortunate that she was able to make her wish known and were more than happy to grant it to her.
Guest: Wow, it’s so interesting that she gave up. My friend Jane (not her real name), when she had cancer, she never gave up. even when she knew it was bad, she begged to be TREATED.
Friend: Gasp. Ummmm. Well, er, there’s a big difference between giving up and acceptance.
Guest: Well, Jane wouldn’t have given up, that’s my point.
Friend’s stifled comeback: Well, Jane clearly was the winner of cancer!
What is wrong with people? Seriously… Why is acceptance of one’s situation considered giving up? Clearly, this shining intellect has no clue of what it’s like to live with cancer and has never experienced, or been close to someone who has experienced, the absolutely crushing toll treatment can take on a cancer patient. I admire my friend’s ability to hold her tongue; I certainly would not have been so polite.
I assume this doesn’t surprise you.
Anyway, I’m glad that, for the most part, I’ve surrounded myself with people who are smart…or at least smart enough to keep their mouths shut when they don’t know what to say.
True, for the most part, I put on an incredibly strong face, but the reality is this is all exhausting. It’s been five years – a miracle! – but that doesn’t take away from the “cancer fatigue” I feel on a daily basis. I don’t mean the literal physical fatigue from treatment or the disease itself; I mean the ongoing weight of having to deal with cancer.
A friend of mine once asked if I think about cancer every day. I was kind of surprised at the question. Of course I do! And not just every day, but every minute of every day. Even when I’m lucky enough to enjoy the company of friends and family, hanging out just having a good time. It’s always there and always the albatross around my neck.
Wow. That turned depressing real fast! But I’m going to resist the urge to edit. It’s my train of thought and important for those who take the time to genuinely ask me how I’m doing.
As for what’s going on, I’ve stopped taking the TAS-102 as it’s not really doing anything any more. I had a good run of a few months with it, but a recent CT scan and blood work show that the cancer is continuing to progress, which is no surprise given the increasing pain I’ve been experiencing.
So, next up are a few options. I will look into possible studies in which to participate here at home, as well as around the world (which I think really means Europe and the USA – and which will present logistical challenges). I am also going to meet with a
radiologist radiation oncologist to see if localized radiation makes sense for one area that’s the source of a lot of pain. I’ll also meet with the hospital’s homeopath to see if he has anything to suggest. And, I’m talking to an oncologist based in NY who has a somewhat unique approach to chemotherapy treatment.
Lots to consider and, to be honest, it is a bit overwhelming (and adds to the fatigue). But, I know I will get through it, taking it all one step at a time.
I’ve also met recently with a nurse who specializes in pain management and she offered some suggestions on how to better take my pain meds. What she told me seems to be helping, which is great, in and of itself.
And now I will prepare to enjoy my first post-daylight savings time Shabbat, which means it starts incredibly early. Thankfully, we have both kids home, as well as a close friend from the old country who came to visit for a long weekend. There are tantalizing smells wafting up from the kitchen which require immediate investigation…