Saturday, May 9, 2009

Cancer

It's been a rough week all the way around. Finn has been a pretty sick little guy, and Michael has been suffering the effects of this latest round of chemo. A lot of fatigue, some nausea, his sense of smell and taste are all screwed up which is affecting his appetite, and he has extreme sensitivity to anything cold - touching something cold, drinking anything cold, etc.

His surgery is fast approaching - only a few more weeks. In a way it's a relief knowing that progress is being made in this whole process. Once the surgery is over, we'll be on the other side of it - over the hump, so to speak. Still, there's a whole almost-overwhelming anxiety about the surgery, too. I can't speak for him, but for me, I'm worried about all the things - however remotely possible - that could go wrong on the operating table. And of course I worry about being left to my own devices with all the kids for however long it takes for him to be hospitalized and recuperate at home afterwards. After his surgery, there will be several more months of chemo. Sometimes it all feels like a little too much to deal with.

I have this guilty little pleasure: People magazine. I have a subscription and every week I eagerly wait for it to arrive in the mail and I carve out an hour to curl up in a chair and escape into it. Last night I read the latest issue, and it cast this awful dark cloud over things. Not one, not two, but three stories of well-known people dead or dying from cancer. Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former presidential candidate John Edwards, dying from terminal stage 4 breast cancer that has spread. Farrah Fawcett, that '70s icon, apparently days away from death from anal cancer that spread. And the brother of David Cooke, that American Idol guy, dead from brain cancer. I know these are all very different cancers from what Michael has, but it was like this electric prod into my head: people die from cancer. Every day. Even in this age of advanced treatment. People die.

Most of the time I have this absolute optimism about Michael's treatment. Of course it's going to be effective. Of course it's going to erradicate this fucking cancer. Of course he's going to pull through and be well again. There's just no alternative.

But every once in a while, the fear creeps in. People die from cancer.

Since this whole process started, beginning when he was diagnosed a few months ago and a treatment protocol was implemented for him, I've looked at this as a finite period of our lives that we have to sacrifice to get to the other side. And once it's behind us, it'll be over, and we'll heave this huge sigh of relief, we'll be stronger and more appreciative of life for having gone through the experience, but for all intents and purposes, we'll get to go back to our "old life" again, where cancer is no longer a part of our reality. But I realize in moments of clarity that that's probably not going to be the case. The cancer is always going to be there from now on until the end of time, even if only as a threat. We'll never be able to live free from fear again.

5 comments:

Leigh Anne said...

lisa, again, i cannot say how much it all just sucks! i hate hate hate that this dreaded disease has found its way into your lives. i wanted to say this though...that yes, people do die from cancer...BUT...people BEAT cancer too...Lance Armstrong, Cheryl Crow, Sharon Osborne. The list goes on. I always have you and your family in my thoughts. Michael will beat this thing...he will come out on the other side stronger! I just have to believe that...if there isn't any hope in life, i wouldn't want to get up in the mornings....

BIG HUGE GIANT hugs...

ps...i hope finn feels better soon too...

Eternal Lizdom said...

Your honesty on this journey makes me respect you in so many ways. I think that anyone else who is involved with cancer would read your openness and agree and hear their own thoughts coming from your "pen."

Thank you.

The Beers Family said...

Lisa, your post really resonates with me today - especially after seeing my dad and hearing him say out loud that he lost 20 lbs - LAST WEEK! I get more and more scared as time goes on - he is in round one of chemo and I am hoping beyond hope that this works. Thank goodness he was a big guy before this happened or I dont know what he would look like now. On top of that learning that he is Stage 3 non-Hodgkins when we orignally thought it was Hodgkins (easier to treat - less recurrence) it has been a tough few weeks. Big Hugs to you - you are so strong!

Tara Marie said...

Lisa, can you e-mail me your home address? I have a book for you.

tara[dot]hintz[at]gmail[dot]com

Anonymous said...

You will not have your “old life” again, you will be changed, because of all the deeper transformation taking place in you, your life’s perspectives will be different.

Fear will always creep in, however having gone through this experience you will also find that you are going to be willing to stare fear in the face “knowing” it will not brake you.
JN