Sometimes, believe it or not, I’m not in the mood to be a terminal cancer patient (duh). Not that the effect is particularly tangible, but the weight of it, as well as the associated waits I’ve occasionally written about, can get awfully heavy. Moreover, in spite of my best psychological efforts, generally speaking, there seems little I can do to diminish its effect. More often than not, it’s merely time; simply time passing and/or time spent trying to talk myself out-of how I feel and in-to how I haven’t failed.
Obviously, surviving five years and almost eight months after initially receiving a “13-month to two-year” prognosis from my oncologist on February 27, 2009 is success with a capital “S.” I understand that miraculous fact amazingly well. Nevertheless, on a daily basis, I might not feel so successful. I attribute it to things beyond my control: the underlying disease; the treatment/side effects; the figurative rewiring of my brain after it learned and began to live with the diagnosis/prognosis and the responsibilities of being a proactive cancer patient; these are certainly reasonable and customary considerations given the world in which I now exclusively reside. Still, it’s my life and I have to live it.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not “woeing-is-me,” nor am I the least bit ungrateful for the great good fortune I’ve had beating the hell out the original life-expectancy odds I was given. I’m thrilled, every day. But I’m still a cancer patient with incurable stage IV, non small cell lung cancer, one of the least desirable diagnoses in the cancer world. Lung cancer is a killer, almost always – and I don’t mean inevitably so, I mean prematurely (not that every death isn’t premature, but you get my meaning, right?).
Every day – or so it seems, there are words, phrases, references, articles, news/media reports, and miscellaneous reminders that I see, hear and/or read, that connect me with my situation. I haven’t exactly completed a study on the nature of this exposure, but it sure seems/feels, however inadvertent or random it may be, that it is impossible to escape and next to impossible to ignore – although I try, and in reviewing the content of this column, it is an ongoing failure of mine.
Some days, I can shrug it off; most days in fact. But this day (today when I’m writing this column), I couldn’t. I’m not exactly depressed, more like forlorn. I don’t feel hopeless, maybe a little helpless. I don’t feel unlucky, perhaps a bit unsettled. Nothing really out of my ordinary; but still, a little out of my character. I’m entitled; I understand that. I’ve been carrying this weight for over five and a half years. No one said being a terminal cancer patient was going to be easy; in fact, they said the exact opposite: that it was going to be the toughest thing I’ve had to do, and of course, they were right. Today is simply one of those days when it’s most difficult. I’m sure tomorrow will better. Of that I’m positive (at least that’s what I tell myself – ALL THE TIME).