It probably seems peculiar to consider what is there to like about cancer. I think that “THE C-WORD” gets a bad rap. For one thing: (stating the obvious) NONE of us is getting out of this life alive, and I think there are MANY worse ways to go. I’d choose cancer over sudden death by any means or a long painful downward spiral of physical function. Permanent loss of mental and/or physical function from stroke or aneurysm? NO thank you!
I’ve never included my name on the list of those who’d like to simply to die in my sleep. (I think the presumption of those who DO want to go that way is that they’ll get to live a “LONG” life before taking that long last nap. Obviously we don’t have a whole lot of choice in that matter.)
Speaking from experience, sudden death is horrifically painful for those left behind. Both the survivors and the departed are deprived of the ability to easily tie up loose ends.
But, I digress, because my point in appreciating my cancer is focusing on LIFE. I think that the fear associated with cancer has to do with the focus on impending death. The cancer diagnosis makes it uncomfortably more difficult for many to ignore their mortality and impermanence.
It seems much easier to pretend we aren’t going to die, to assume that we’ll live to “a ripe old age.” So, I’ll say it: I’m going to die, and so are you. And just because I’ve got cancer doesn’t mean I’m going to go before you.
Last year, during my first rounds of treatment for lung cancer, I had no problem finding much to celebrate and be grateful for. In all fairness, I felt I wasn’t really challenged. I was off work, on disability, without any big financial worries, and I tolerated my treatment well. No nausea, hair that only thinned. The worst side effect I experienced was occasional but profound fatigue. This meant that I’d sometimes spend 3-5 days in my pajamas, doing not much more than moving from my bed to the recliner. Kinda sounds like a vacation, huh?
This year, I’m finding myself dealing with a few new side effects, including pain, which has not only disrupted my sleep, but necessitated prescription pain meds over the course of months. I’ve also lost my hair, or at least most of it. Keeping my spirits up HAS been a little more difficult this time, but I am coming around.
As long as I can be comfortable, and am blessed (as I know I am) to not have to struggle financially, then this ISN’T so bad.
So, here’s at least part of the list, now that I’m beginning to remember what I like about my cancer:
I don’t have to wake to an alarm clock 5 days a week.
My friends bring me meals.
I can nap every day.
Friends and loved ones make sure to say “I love you” frequently.
If pain keeps me up for a few hours in the middle of the night, I can watch a movie and knit until the pain meds kick in, and just sleep in a little longer in the AM.
I’m expected to be grumpy once in a while.
I have the time to meditate, pray and generally focus on my health.
I gain a couple of hours every day from not having to “dress professionally”, prepare lunches, and drive to and from work.
I can take more time to stay connected with loved ones.
I cry more easily.
When I have the energy, I have the time to take walks or putter in the garden with my husband.
I am considered to have more wisdom because of what I am going through.
I am more aware of the simple beauty of life.