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May 19, 2005

Popping Cancer reflection: On self image.

Long-term cancer is a constant battle with self-image and worth.

Recently I've been suffering from fears that I don't exist. That is to say, I sit in the same chair in front of the television or computer all day and feel miserable, simply because there's nothing else for me to do, and many days there's nothing else I CAN do.

I used to be the spiritual caretaker of a church. I would attend to my marriage, do the shopping since my schedule was more flexible, walk the dog three times a day, go to school four hours away, plan for the future, pay the bills and manage our household finances. Now, I sit and ask Mrs. Popping Culture for help with things like pouring a glass of milk or turning up the thermostat.

It's easy to get depressed, to feel less like a being of worth than a huge sucking need in that same chair every day. It's easier still when you consider the guilt I feel at watching Mrs. Popping Culture have to do all those things I used to do, as well as live her own life. It's frustrating and stupid and it makes me angry. Cancer makes me angry.

I don't think there is any real answer other than endurance. On the few days I feel well enough to get out and do, I try to get out and do. Days like this last week, where my only possible goal each morning is just to survive the day or at least endure it, all I can do is try to accept the fact that I am where I am right now. One day I'll get my life back, but for now this is how it has to be.

It's hard and unfair on Mrs. Popping Culture and it's hard and unfair on me, but isn't that a reflection on life itself? Unless you are Paris Hilton, you have things you have to do that you'd rather not. Life isn't fair and nobody, not even God in the Bible, promised life would be fair. Bad things happen and sometimes after all the prayer and charity and good will, all there is left is just to find a way to deal with it. To survive. To endure.

So today I'm going to sit in my chair and keep surviving. Today I'm not a pastor. I won't be walking the dog or running to the store or doing any homework. Today my work is to get through the day alive, to keep breathing even though my lungs are full of fluid, to keep being angry at cancer, and to try to hang on to the dreams of who I was and who I will be once again after this thing is beaten.

You can lose to cancer by dying, of course, but you can also give up your dreams. You can become a professional cancer patient (and that will last far beyond your cure from the disease itself) and you can give up your self-image and let cancer take you over body and soul. As a chaplain I learned that cancer ends the lives of more people than it kills, if you get the concept.

I've decided: not me. I still have dreams and plans for the future. Maybe today I'll feel well enough to work on them, or maybe today I'll be too sick and pained to do more than just get through the day. I have faith to believe that however it ends up, I will be in the hands of a loving God when it's over. I have strength to get through today if getting through today is the only goal life offers. I have courage to do what I can to hang on to who I am on those days when I have enough strength to choose between fighting for my life or sitting depressed in that same chair.

I can beat cancer, live or die, by simply claiming and keeping possession of that Dan Champion who is waiting to be a pastor again, to walk to dog again, to buy the groceries again. Waiting as long as it takes to endure the work I have to do right now.

Posted by Dan at May 19, 2005 07:11 AM

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Tear down these walls.
Break down the barriers to communication.
Be a hero.
Remember in Forrest Gump?
You still are "Lt. Dan."
Are you saying it is better to be Dan who might be depressed at a moment in time than to be a depressed person who is named Dan?

Posted by: Jim at May 19, 2005 08:08 AM

It is natural to be depressed from time to time, just as it is natural to be angry, happy, sad, whatever.

It is unhealthy to be a depressed person. I don't want to be that.

Posted by: Dan at May 19, 2005 08:48 AM

Thank you. I really don't know you but you are an incredible person Pastor Dan Champion. As is Mrs. Popping Culture. I can feel so much strength, love, and faith everytime you write. Your spirit is remarkable. Thank you again for sharing your life and thoughts with those of us who come to Popping Culture.com for sustenance.

Posted by: Carla at May 19, 2005 10:48 AM

Dan.....keep on keepin' on! There's "Cup-play" to be done! Don't forget that on your list of pastoring, dog-walking and grocery shopping. I thought it would be higher than dog-walking, but you ARE on medication, so it might just be the meds talking!

As for coming to Popping Culture for sustenance? I keep looking for more new X-Box updates and some of those "kid eating puppy" pictures! Those are funny right there, I don't care who you are!

Posted by: doug at May 19, 2005 12:06 PM

Doug, I should have been more clear. Whenever I say "survive cancer," cup play is implied, since cup play is more important than life.

Say.. could you take a photo of the cup, maybe with a representative number of dated golf balls, and email it to me? I'm sure PC fans would like to see.

Posted by: Dan at May 19, 2005 03:41 PM

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