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May 08, 2005

Popping Cancer Update: The Grind

I haven't really posted an update in a while, with good reason: nothing's really happening.

I have another chemotherapy treatment Wednesday, the second this cycle, then a week off, then the three week cycle repeats. I'm sure I'll feel horrible on Wednesday. So what else is new?

Eventually, cancer just becomes a grind, especially when tests show slow progress. The newness and fear wear off. People stop bringing you meals and sending money and cards and you just settle into a rhythm of feeling horrible and recovering. The firey passion to survive, to fight back, to beat cancer, sort of eases into the daily grind.

The enemy now is boredom. Afternoons are long - very long. It sounds funny to say to those of you who are active participants in a productive life, but video games and blogging and television and reading can only fill so many hours each day. As boredom grows, the will to fight shrinks. With each progressive three-week course of treatment, the baseline of available strength gets lower and lower.

It's easy to start to feel like a prisoner. I feel trapped in this house, yet I don't have the strength or motivation to go anywhere else. Worse, you start to wonder if you really exist - if your personality matters or if you're just a black hole of neediness to your family as you sit in the same chair day after day.

I know the days of chemotheraputic torture are coming; they are part of the rhythm now. I've been doing chemotherapy twice every three weeks since what? January? It's hardly news to tell you I'm going to feel sick on Wednesday, is it?

So the challenge - and by challenge, I mean the real-life battle for survival - becomes staying active, staying alive, making my life still mean something. If you fall into that rhythm of just existing and dragging through the afternoons, you're one step away from giving in and giving up.

So my strength goes down, but my need to be active and alive goes up. THIS is the real battle with long-term cancer. Staying active when a walk to the mailbox leaves you breathless and coughing up God-knows-what.

So what is the Popping Cancer Update for today? I'm still fighting. I'm still grinding it out. I'm bored of this place and this schedule of nothingness with the occasional torture day, but I'm still alive. I'm still angry. I still want to live.

That will have to do.

Posted by Dan at May 8, 2005 03:08 PM

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Hope your Mother's Day afternoon gave you the opportunity to find some purpose to stay active and not be overcome by boredom. I'm sure a man of your wisdom can come up with dozens of things to do that do not take any more physical or emotional effort than that of the video games, T.V., and computer stuff. I'm sure you will not be like the Anakin Skywalker and fall to the dark side.
Hope the "Revenge of the Sith" gives you some motivation to try and get out if your body and mind allow it. By the way, who goes on to kill Count DuKoo (?) so that Anakin becomes the number two man only to the emperor?
See you!

Posted by: Jim at May 8, 2005 10:24 PM

I hope it's Samuel L. Jackson. He told reporters his character definitely dies in this movie, but being the bad-tail that he is, I hope he takes down a couple dozen baddies with him.

By the way, to answer your question: they call it a "Royale with cheese."

Posted by: Dan at May 8, 2005 10:41 PM

Your personality matters a great deal. This may sound strange coming from someone you don't really know, but I read you every day and I learn every day. Know that your voice changes other people, cuz it does. Me included.

Posted by: Alex at May 8, 2005 11:55 PM

yes, Dan, you are making a difference, even through the black hole of cancer. Hang in there.
If you're tired of reading, you might not want a book suggestion - nevertheless -- have you discovered Jasper Fforde? "The Eyre Affair" is the first -- imagine a world in which the Crimean War is still going on, the Russian Revolution didn't happen, but Wales is a communist country - croquet is a national sport with teams and stadiums - cloning has resulted in the resurrection of Neanderthals and wooly mammoths - and it's possible to get inside novels, interact with the characters and change the endings. He's got a good website, too. I don't know if it would be your kind of thing but his sense of humor might make him a kindred spirit.

Posted by: chava at May 9, 2005 11:58 AM


Yesterday afternoon I was able to unload boxes, move furniture, and chase my niece and nephews around along with my own children at my parents’ house.

Upon deciding to take a break for a bit, I went and sat on the back porch with my daddy. He was tired and wasn’t able to help as he would have liked. We started discussing our soon to be living arrangement and how there are so many details to see about yet… So many things we will have decide as we go along together…. The 7 of us…

We were rocking back and forth as we talked about how he will no longer be driving as that will be one of my responsibilities (privileges/blessings) upon moving-in. He talked about how hard it is for him to give-up driving and yet there is a peace that comes from knowing I will be behind the wheel…

This man will be 65 in November and recently was told by me that we were moving-in and that he/mom had no say so in the matter. His health simply demands it.

I can remember many, many afternoons that I couldn’t drive to pick my sons up from school. Couldn’t run to the grocery because I couldn’t even move my legs let alone even think about driving because I had been told that I couldn’t….. That I never would be able to again….

Who brought my sons home many of those days? Who ran to the store? My daddy did…….

Real strength isn’t measured by what you cannot do…. But what you can… What you choose to…. Day in and day out….

Even on those long afternoons…..

It also has more to do with what you give away more so than what you keep…

Posted by: Cam at May 9, 2005 12:22 PM

Wish you lived close by...my toddler and I could come cheer you up.

Posted by: Mollydog at May 9, 2005 09:36 PM

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