“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment; there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready.”
At this stage in my life, I honestly wasn’t planning on change. Not that I guess change is something you ever really plan for. It just happens whether you want it to, or not. A dear friend of mine shared an interesting cancer-related article with me last night. It is only this morning that I had the time to sit down and read it. I’ll share the link to it here, along with an excerpt from the article:
FROM: Ray W
No one has an answer about how to deal with Cancer, especially if it’s one of your struggles. You deal with it as you can, and no one has a right to suggest that there is something wrong with how YOU deal with it. I found this article very on point.
Know you both are frequently in my thoughts and blessings.
In the fall of last year, I noticed a lump in my left neck which felt to me like a run-of-the-mill swollen lymph node. When it didn’t go away I sought the advice of a doctor. Several months and countless medical tests later, the official diagnosis is stage IV non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
It’s not quite what it sounds like; for some reason the way the stage numbering system works for lymphoma is different from all other cancers. This week, I’ll receive my first session of chemotherapy. This will continue every two weeks for three months, at which point there is a chance I’ll be in remission. If not, we start the whole thing over again.
When I was diagnosed, writing about the experience seemed like an obvious way to work out the spectrum of emotions I was feeling. Growing up, I was constantly writing. As an adult, it’s how I make a living. And so the week following my diagnosis, I began documenting my journey on a blog.
In separate columns, both published in the past week, husband and wife Emma and Bill Keller argue in no uncertain terms that they take offense to what I’m doing. That they don’t think I’m handling my cancer with proper decorum, which would be to sit down, shut up and stop serving as a reminder to the Kellers that life is frequently ugly and unfair.
This article definitely hits home because Laureen and I have chosen to be very open about our (her) experience with cancer. As I responded to my friend, Ray –
REPLY FROM: John A
Ah, Ray, and now I just finished reading this piece. That was great! I am glad he responded to the Kellers and I absolutely agree with you. There is no right or wrong way to deal with cancer. Every person’s journey (and those around the person), will be different and for us, and Laureen in particular, she has felt that it is important to not pull any punches with the debilitating and devastating side of cancer, and not wear a mask of false bravado.
I was just talking with my therapist today about how much Laureen and I are struggling with this and how you always see these super positive people with cancer and we just aren’t there that way. It is just so shocking to the both of us and it has stripped away all of our hopes and dreams. I hate to be a Debbie downer about it, but at least for ourselves we feel like we have to be true to how we are feeling and relatively honest about it with people too. My therapist agreed that we have a right to feel the way we feel and he felt that this was healthy and probably more the norm than excessive positive-ness. So thank for sharing the article. I’ve been reading an interesting cancer piece in a recent issue of Esquire magazine. And thank u for keeping us in your prayers!
And I guess that pretty much sums up where we are at the moment. I did spend part of yesterday creating lists of possible doctors, possible palliative care programs and possible hospice providers. Now I’ve got to figure out who is going to fill each role. Laureen gave me her overriding question last night:
In order to access palliative care, do I have to have a referral from my primary care physician?
I guess that brings it back to basics. As I said, everyone’s experience with cancer is going to be unique to that individual and their families – and this is a partial record of our particular experience. Alas, it does not fit the Disney script of “always a happy ending”, which is probably why the Kellers were affronted by the fact that there are some people who just simply want to share the experience for what it is.