Without putting any thought to what I was saying, I responded to one item with, “I have to do THAT for the rest of my life?” It took only a moment for me to laugh at myself.
There comes a time when using the phrase “the rest of of my life” to indicate “forever” needs to come to a halt. I'm 76 for god's sake and I've got pancreatic cancer. That phrase should have reached the end of its shelf life for me a long time ago.
As the days until surgery dwindle down now and most of the chores and preparations are finished, I've had more empty moments to let the actuality and seriousness of my condition sink in.
In short, it sucks.
In further short, I am afraid. There is so much to be afraid of:
⚫ I might, even unrelated to the cancer, die in surgery and the details of my life are not in good order at all for cleanup
⚫ Maybe something will prevent removal of the malignant tumor
⚫ Potential complications following surgery are not uncommon nor minor
⚫ With or without all that, recovery is long and arduous. Am I up to it? I don't know
⚫ From what I've read, I can write off the rest of this year; complete recovery from surgery will take that long
⚫ In terms of health, I've led a charmed life. I've hardly had to think about my body – just feed it reasonably well and move around a bit to keep it in good working order. I'm deeply unprepared for the difficulty of this journey
⚫ Mostly, I just want my life each day to be normal. Ordinary. Unremarkable. But that's not going to be anymore – at least not by my definition. Can I do this with a modicum of grace? It doesn't feel like it right now.
Okay. I'm having a bad day. So many of you, in comments and private email, have remarked on my good attitude and strength. It is nice to be perceived that way and maybe it's true.
But so is what I'm writing now, in this moment as I try to see the computer screen through tears. I am afraid, maybe the most afraid I have ever been.
And I am furious: why, with so much fantastic science in the realm of technology just in our lifetimes haven't we applied that much energy, money and innovation to finding a way to cure – or at least successfully treat – all the hateful cancers that make miserable the lives and deaths of so many millions of people?
Do we really need one more fancy cell phone or shiny auto model?
How about, at the very least, cleaning up the environment. That would prevent some goodly number of cancers. We know that but we do next to nothing. And not to point fingers, but we now have an administration in Washington whose members are actively reversing the few steps we have taken in the right direction. "So sad," as one of the perpetrators is wont to tweet.
There is, I have discovered, a not-so-subtle pressure on patients of dreadful diseases to put on a face of bravery and fortitude and grit and spunk. Some of the time that's easy. I actually feel that way - no effort involved.
And then are days like now when I am so frightened I can hardly breathe and unanticipated tears spring forth. I know I'm not the only one but someone needs to say it out loud, that it happens.