“Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in.” Although this quote is from Michael Corleone from “The Godfather: Part III,” it very much characterizes my daily struggle being a terminal cancer patient; non small cell lung cancer, NSCLC, is like that, almost always. Even though I don’t want to think about the fact that I have cancer, or not let it affect my judgment on life – or perspective; or let it impede my path to a happier existence, more often than not, it does.
Not that I’m morose or depressed or a dismal Jimmy, I am however, as Curly Howard of The Three Stooges so regularly said: “I’m a victim of soycumstance.” And not that I dwell on having lung cancer either; it is what it is, and of course, I am extremely happy to still be alive. Nevertheless, having lived post-diagnosis now for five years and nearly four months, (after initially being given a “13 month to two year” prognosis by my oncologist), doesn’t necessarily make my circumstances any easier.
I won’t bore you with the details, both mentally or physically, facing cancer patients as they/we endure a rather difficult set of challenges. Suffice it to say, there are good days and bad days – and many in the middle, to be honest. I’ve been fortunate to have many more good days than bad. And it’s those good days that we try to hang on to and harness somehow when the inevitable bad days begin to overwhelm. And as often as I try to compartmentalize the cancer effect, it still manages to rear its ugly head: consciously, subconsciously, literally, figuratively, generally, specifically; and/or any other word or phrase you can imagine. As much as I don’t want to feel its effect, emotionally I do.
Practically speaking then, how do I forget that I have cancer? How do I control the uncontrollable? Given my daily routine of pills, supplements, special drinks, food choices and lifestyle changes and alone time, how do I not let the fact that I have an incurable form of cancer dominate how I live and breathe; especially when my breathing is often compromised and my life is one continual set of immune-system boosting, anti-cancer activities and behaviors? Believe me, it’s not easier written that it is said and certainly neither is its doing. And it certainly beats the alternative, if you know what I mean? However, it is something that I am mostly able to do. I give myself a “B,” because I’m able to remain/“B” positive.
But, and it’s a huge but, to say the process is not one gigantic emotional ball and chain would be denying the very reality in which I’m immersed 24 hours a day. Still, how much additional good would it serve to focus on it more exclusively than I presently do? However, if I don’t focus on it, perhaps I don’t consistently do the things that I need to do to stay alive and maintain the reasonably good health with which I’ve been blessed. As much as I’d like to be “out,” I’d just as soon not have the cancer “pull me back in” every single day.