Friday, September 27, 2013

CANCER UPDATE #4 - Halftime?

So, treatment #6 is eight days ago.  This puts me over half-way done with the chemotherapy… sorta kinda.  Halftime is a relative consideration.  The prayer and hope is that it’s half finished.  But one never knows.  Cancer is a cloud and walking from beneath is not a simple matter of foreseeable distance.  I won’t know until December if this first round, and what a long round it is, does the trick and/or, at least for a while.  If not, there will be another around and, perhaps, another.

Otherwise, things are the same.  No new side-effects except for this weird toe-blister.  They said splitting and cracking skin on the hands and feet might happen.  I’m hoping it’s just a blister.  And blah-dee-blah-blah…  That’s what I think of this whole deal.   But, hoping it’s half-time and all, I’ll try to be profound, or at least a bit reflective.

For you history nerds, this reminds me of the false peace that descended along the western European lines in late 1939 and early 1940.  The British and French wondered if there would be real fighting or if the invasion of Poland might be it.  So the troops sat there, deployed, playing cards and doing whatever else expectant troops do.  That’s me, Mr. Expectant and hoping nothing further goes on with the deal.  I guess that would make the part of my innards they cut out like Poland.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that there is no end of documents showing the cancer patient when he or she is supposed to die.  Innocuously, the words ‘survivor’ or ‘survivability’ or some derivative appears in the titles.  But, the predictors point in less optimistic directions.  There are bell-curves and rates and all kinds of end-of-the-line statistics.  Imagine a team in the playoffs constantly reading about when they are going to be done and how they won’t make it to the finals.  Such reading cannot be good for the fighting spirit.  I don’t read it any longer.

And then I came to this other realization, born of those vague emotions that sand-blast the heart on the day of diagnosis.  It takes a while to sort things out.  I’m still sorting.  But, here’s the thing:  the cancer patient is ultimately alone.  I mean, they bear the disease by themselves and either maintain or fail to maintain in the wake of the seismic shifts of emotion and spirit.  Yes, there are support groups (I’ve ever been a support group kind of guy) and yes, people are helping, and yes there are family and friends.  I know that.  But I’m talking about those quiet times, after I’ve talked with God for the last time that day (and God is there too, always, but the flesh is very weak at times), and I stare at the ceiling after the lights are out or when I drive along playing ‘what-if’ in my head, not paying attention to the road or much of anything else.  Some days have what feel are a hundred such moments when the isolation cocoons the patient and the tested breaking point is once again stretched.

Finally, remember how Spider man has ‘Spider-sense’?  Like when an anvil is about to fall on his head he dodges out of the way?  I think I’m developing ‘Cancer-sense’.  There have been times when I see a stranger and I’m sure that person has cancer.  We have an odd moment and then quickly slide our gaze to something else.  It may the tone of their skin or the way they walk or some baffled light in their eyes.  I haven’t tested this theory, but maybe I soon will.

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