Sunday, December 22, 2013

Day 850 - It's all about the cancer. It's not All about The Cancer

It is day 850, in terms of the cancer. I add the words “in terms of the cancer” as if I am so far removed it, that needed to be explained to you or even me. I don’t think there is any doubt why I know how many days I’ve been fighting. It has been a fight! A fight lasting 850 days. I would like to believe that it doesn’t occupy my life to such an extent, I’d number the days since they first discovered it. But that’s just the way it is. I think it is like a job – a person’s job is the occupier of their time, and more. The cancer fight for me is the great occupier. I do other things that I love. Photography, sewing, painting, building boxes and chests, writing and gardening when it is time for that. But the bulk, the level of my energy is due to the cancer. While I don’t like it, I accept it. Sometimes I don’t write or post on Facebook because I fear you’ve grown tired of hearing about it. Sometimes, there is little else to write about. As any of your cancer patient friends, or family members will tell you, being a cancer patient is a full time business. In fact, it is not bound by any sort of reasonable hours such as a job. There are some days I can’t eat solid food (most days) because of the colon resections and the lack of functioning of my bowels. So I have to make sure there is plenty of good drinking water around and lots of Ensure® and other nutritional supplements’. I have to take so many different medicines I can’t even keep them straight. There are the myriad of vitamins’ (which had to be cleared by my oncologist). There are a dozen or so laxatives and anti-dihedrals. And since I like to stay as selfsufficient as I possibly can, there’s laundry to do, grocery shopping, home cleaning (which takes a “back seat”). From 6 to 8 out of every 14 days, I am very sick, either constantly throwing up or having difficulties in the bathroom. So if I need fire wood for my wood burning stove, I have to have that carried in and convenient. Out of these 850 days or 121 weeks, I’ve had an average of two doctors’ visits a week, totally 242 and that is not even counting the month I was in the hospital in Pittsburgh. I never know if I am going to be well enough to get out and run errands – go to the grocery store or shop for some fabric for a new blanket I am making. But I get ready each day, and within the first few minutes of getting out, I know whether I can stay out or not. Last summer, even though I was on the very same schedule, I had the strength often enough to get a very good start on a log cabin. But with the onset of cold weather, I haven’t been able to tolerate it as well as years past, so that project sits in Mom’s yard, waiting for me to get stronger, or for warmer weather. (There is also the known effect that the longer chemo goes, the more difficult it can get.) My life before was about bicycling and racing, fishing and ginseng hunting and teaching mathematics’ at the local community college. All of that is gone for now, and no matter how much a few of you may think I could pick those things up and go, just shows that you don’t know much about being a cancer patient. Also, I have found, there are those to think I exploit my condition for sympathy and other “possibles”. This is insulting in the highest degree not only to me but every cancer patient on the face of the earth. All of this may sound like I am complaining, but I am not. These are facts, and I am proud at the manner in which I have conducted my life in these 850 days. I have very happy times, and I am hopeful even in the face of very small odds. I cherish the things that are my life; photography, sewing, painting, gardening, my Son and Grandson, my friends and writing. I am sick, but I
DO these things for pleasure and, believe it or not, worship. Yes, when something new comes down the pipe regarding the cancer, I get nervous and frightened, but I am not frightened on a daily basis. I enjoy my life as much as I ever have, and that is because I believe in God. My life is limited right now, but I don’t believe it always will be so limited. Regarding the cancer, I have survived 850 days and I am as healthy as a person with my illness could possibly be. I think this is because I remain as active as I possibly can. When I can, I chop my own fire wood, I walk 1 to 2 miles every day that I can. I live upstairs, so I carry all of my groceries up the stairs as well as firewood and laundry as well; not because I have too. There are plenty of people who would do this for me, but I figure, as long as I can do it, I am better off doing it. In these 850 days, I have had ups and downs. I have gotten very very sick and I’ve gotten better. I have had days where I felt almost normal. There have been days in which I thought I’d be gone in mere days. And it seems like, down deep inside, I am getting better. Some of the pain has eased. Some of the symptoms have gone away. It seems I am almost as strong now as I was the day they found the cancer, and I take this as a very good sign. You, my friends have been so very good to me. Caring, prayerful and concerned. Together we have been fighting for a long time, and I am afraid we are going to have to keep fighting for an unknown while more. But the hardest part of this whole thing, has got to be the unpredictability of the sickness. I never know really when I am going to be sick for the day or not. So it is hard to plan anything. When I am at my sickest, I don’t like to be seen nor do I like to speak on the phone. I don’t like people seeing me in those states. I think this is because I cannot tolerate pity. I have actually gotten angry two or three times at friends or acquaintances who displayed outright pity. THERE IS NOT ONE THING IN ME OR ABOUT ME TO PITTY. I have God, Christ and the Holy Spirit strengthen me and guiding me. He is not leaving me comfortless. The bottom line is, I will either beat this cancer or not. However it turns out, does not matter at all to me today, for what it is I want to accomplish….. For today, it simply does not matter. And today is all I have. Today is all you have also. I find there is a residual sickness that I can’t surmount, but I don’t have to lay down and die either. I respect the boundaries the cancer has placed on me, and I try and often do flourish inside those boundaries.