It's really weird, in many ways the opposite reaction of what you'd expect ..
I thought it might be useful to write about it, as many people here are coping with grief, anger, fear, and my personal reaction has been somewhat different.
(Yes, absolutely, coloured by anxiety sometimes - mainly around what happens to my children, but for the most part, dealing with cancer has made me stronger and in some ways, happier).
The one thing in the human experience that unites us all is pretty straight forward ... we will all die.
Everybody has a date with the ole Grim Reaper, but what happens to a cancer patient is a kind of metamorphasis from a loose acceptance of the fact .. to a sense that now they have a concrete date, and it's approaching them like the headlights of a truck on a highway.
What I think that does is makes some people prepare themselves for dying.
It's a prudent thing, it's an honest thing, but it's not the only thing.
Yes, we'll all die, but even when dealing with cancer, none of us truly knows when. There are wonderful stories of people with quite dramatically advance cancers who survive years longer than expected. My own ex-stepfather was diagnosed with terminal cancer not long before I got my own head & neck diagnosis, and they gave him 3 months to live. That was 2 years ago, and his cancer is now considered tentatively in remission (having shrunk 80%).
The point I want to make is simple ... you still don't know when you're going to die.
So don't forget to live.
Even with the awful side effects of chemoradiation, surgery, financial worries, everything else .. stay plugged in to life. Don't start wrapping the shroud around yourself just yet. Fight, but don't make the battle the only thing either. See a movie, hug a friend, don't give your humanity to this disease.
Today, I had my PEG feeding tube removed, and it hurt like hell. I'm still dealing with pain & mucositis in my mouth, and yet, when I was walking down the street, with the sun on my shoulder .. I smiled. I felt happy.
It's hard to explain why - and I'm not sure I'm doing a good job ..
But I think cancer has taught me that life is precious, and we should do our best to make the most of what we're given. Yes, since I got cancer, I smile more. Maybe I'm just a weirdo.
But if you're reading this .. and you feel alone, and struggling .. find some anchor that helps you navigate through all of that fear, denial, anger, etc .. so that you can see the sunshine again.
Hi Captain and you seem the sort of guy who has the right attitude for what you are going through, I have had Bladder Cancer for the last twelve months now and it is a test of yourself plus family n friends. Some of my friends expected to be attending my funeral twelve months after they found out but in this day and age not all cancers kill, thankfully. I have tried to educate the rest with info I have given them and a daughter who gives me an abundence of hope in every thing she says. I have had high's and low's and living with a wife who is a pessimist isn't good believe me and you are right to smile and get something that occupies the mind and body as I too am not ready for the Reaper just yet. I have lots of things I occupy myself with but finding the time is always a problem but hey do it as the rest can wait, hope to talk to you as your's and my Journey progress.'
Love and best wishes
Thanks for the kind words .. sorry for not checking back here so regularly.
Today, I actually got my "all clear" .. I was so relieved .. I've been approaching the cancer with as much strength and dignity as I can muster .. but some times in the darker reaches of the night, I imagine dying and get really distressed .. not for myself and the idea of end of consciousness, or a transition (or whatever happens) .. but the idea that my children wouldn't understand and would have to grieve at very young ages (4, 6 & 8).
But thankfully - my body is disease free, I managed to beat the bastardly thing 🙂
Well .. early days .. but yeah, great news. I hope you also manage to win your fight.
Hi Captain and this week has been quite busy in "My Bladder Cancer(BC) Journey" as I have been to three different hospitals but I got the all clear so all worth it with just one more test result to come on Monday I live for another 3 months until the next round of testing, even plan on going on holiday. Well done on your own personnel "All Clear" and long may it continue. Your emotional journey sounds much the same as mine as it's in the early hours when you lie in bed thinking about the whole stupid world that has been thrown at us and the question is always "Why Me" but you get up and get on with life as it is and thats what counts.
Keep on living Captain,
In case it helps anybody, I'm still smiling.
I dealt with a grim disease, gut-wrenching treatment, horrible after-effects, the lingering uncertainty of recurrence ..
... and yeah, somehow my smile is still intact.
I think that after dealing with cancer, facing death head-on, you kind of realise that some of the baggage and bullshit you've been carrying around is completely unnecessary. And you walk lighter for it.
My disease was diagnosed in September 2016.
They said that without successful intervention I'd be dead in 6 months.
It's now August 2018.
I'm disease free.
I hope to live at least another ten years. If I'm lucky I'll look back at this post in 30 years time and grin. But regardless, the lesson is that life is finite. I hope you can wrap some happiness and enjoyment into whatever you have left. Don't think of it as dwindling sands falling through an hourglass, but wake up to the moment. Shoot for happiness, yes, even with cancer - shoot for happiness.
You know what..?.I thought I was the only one feeling this too! Its like a liberating feeling...a feeling of peaceful calm and or acknowledgement. We often wonder what we will go from...and when etc..but like you..I have a few moments..in my silent moments. But its like seeing things so differently....more with clarification and acceptance. Yes live love laugh..hug n smile...because whether sick or not..we truly arent guaranteed a tomorrow....my nephew turned to me and said (before I was diagnosed again) " you know..we pass the date and month of our death every year..but we dont know which one our lives will end on one day"......and hes right!....So my friend you are not alone....I feel the same...my diagnosis of stage 4 metastasis to supraclavicular lymph nodes left side on my neck from a cervical cancer primary is rare as hens teeth....but I treat it like a chronic disease..which it is. I feel great..atm ..no other metastasis just finished radiation (palliative )..burnt to a crisp..finding it hard to swallow food atm but am ok. I keep going..and yes you take more in everyday...nothing for granted and aware of my loved ones and surroundings..etc. one day at a time...and so much to enjoy. Yes its my kids I will miss....and the grief part...rears its head...I know most likely this disease will be my end..but not yet buddy...and I have come closer too my faith in God..that Im not afraid to go one day. Peace and happiness to you..and to all who are coping as they wish. ❤
This is beautiful but I imagine was a process not an overnight decision. I also believe this wonderful attitude displays a great example to people that love you and are affected by your current condition.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Very inspirational.
Hi there - and thanks for your kind words. It's funny, looking back on your musings throughout a time of struggle. I was pretty prolific here when fighting cancer - I think at first I was just researching, trying to wrap my head around my disease, but after that, even when still in the trenches, I think I was writing little messages for future people, anyone who stumbles along and might be a few steps behind me.
In December (this year 2021), I'll reach my 5 year treatment anniversary, which is when the doctors start losing interest in you, and using optimistic phrases like "cured" or "total remission"
I still fret about cancer sometimes - it's strange, it's more in a sense of what a black joke it would be on me, to come so far and then get hit with an untreatable remission or something. A laugh & cry kind of moment, I guess.
Because yeah, I'm still smiling.
My travel insurance company collapsed with the COVID border closures.
I'm going to dress up as the superhero Captain Australia and walk from Brisbane to Melbourne for The Kids' Cancer Project. Still smiling 🙂
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