Taking Care of Business

The cats. The car. The dentist. The pancreatic enzymes. It was a week that typically isn’t. As often as my credit card was swiped these past few days, I’m amazed its magnetic strip is still magnetized. To quote my deceased mother, Celia: “It’s enough already.”

Oh well, what’s done is done, though it definitely needed doing. And aside from the fact that I didn’t have the actual money, fortunately I had the available credit, which I was grateful to have had. I mean, how long can you put off necessary evils/expenditures before they rear their ugly consequences? And though money doesn’t grow on trees (linen actually), credit seems to, and so the to-do list now has some cross-outs/”has-dones” finally.

Now the anxiety about neglecting the “to-dos” is replaced by the worry about the cost/needing-to-pay the “having-dones.” Nevertheless, the cats have had their vaccinations shot current. The car now has a passenger window that goes down – and back up, a check-engine light that no longer illuminates, a blower that will now provide heat in the winter and a defogger when needed, and as it turns out a bit of unexpected air conditioning. The dentist has referred me to an oral surgeon (since the teeth were both “unrestorable“/not root canal candidates) who will extract two teeth from my mouth and hundreds more from my bank account/probably credit card – again, but no doubt get me back on a course of dental correction. The pancreatic enzymes, the most expensive bottle of pills I buy (I consume upwards of 55 pills per day) is an expense I incur every three months and does something to help my immune system keep the lung cancer in-check, a priority if there ever was one.

Paying to keep on playing (so to speak), by maintaining this kind of normalcy enhances the feeling that life is indeed still being played. And not that my attitude/philosophy in such responsibilities is totally affected by yours truly having been diagnosed with a “terminal” form of cancer: non-small cell lung cancer, stage IV, to be specific, but as the old punchline says: “It doesn’t hurt.” And avoiding hurt is definitely part of the fighting-cancer strategy; along with avoiding stress, eating healthy, exercising and boosting one’s immune system.

I guess what I’m realizing that I have two lives, sort of, the usual and customary life: work, play, day-to-day stuff and the cancer life: lab work, chemotherapy, scans, oncologist, pills, lifestyle changes, etc. On some days, they are parallel. On other days, they intersect. And though they may be separate, they are inter-related. What benefits one is likely to positively affect the other. Additionally, a negative in one life will  likewise have an adverse consequence in the other. However, the requirements to maintain their respective lives is different. Yet balance/co-existence must be maintained in order for one to remain “twogether.” Two separate halves will not make for a responsible whole, but rather lead to an emotional one. And if there’s one attribute that a cancer patient/survivor must have, it is emotional wherewithal. Failure to do so in one’s cancer life will likely spill over into the non-cancer life (and vice-versa) and cause a kind of an adult version of failure to thrive. Cancer might win the battle in the end but you can’t let it win the battle in the interim. Fulfilling your every-day responsibilities helps give that life the kind of accomplishment that aids and abets in your fight against your cancer life. Moreover, handling your cancer life gives you the confidence and optimism to live your non-cancer life.

Granted, the two lives might not exactly be the best of friends, but they must be partners of a sort. The sort that is independent, appreciative, respectful and considerate.

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