I don’t want to self-indulge too much about last week’s column but, sometimes in my unexpressed desire to fulfill my writing obligation/not let me cancer/cancer treatment affect my schedule, I write my column under less-than-ideal circumstances. Post chemotherapy/(last week) – the immediate week after, is about as challenging as it gets for me. I’m a bit irritable. I’m a bit out of sync/unable to focus. I’m somewhat impatient. My hands are shaky. My eyes are “squinty.” I’m hungry yet I can’t eat. My self-editing skills are below average – more than usual. And finally, my reading comprehension is mostly lost in the toxic haze. Still, I’m determined to make my deadline.
Not that any of the preceding paragraph is an excuse. It’s more of an explanation as to why a column written with the best of intentions may have missed the mark in tone and substance. Though I’ve not received any feedback as yet confirming my sense of what I had written last week; nevertheless, my feeling upon submitting it to editorial was that I had wavered a bit. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the balance emotionally or the ability physically to assess its content. I apologize in arrears for attempting to maintain its regularity.
And to that point, specifically to that word, that’s what my attitude as a cancer patient has been about: regularity. Doing the things that I regularly/normally/typically do without deviating from my norm. Because for me, deviating from my norm, living/doing outside of my box – within reason, would be – to me anyway, reinforcing the negative that is most definitely a cancer diagnosis. A diagnosis with which I have long ago made my peace, made my choices and moreover, made my it goal to face the present/future with a positive attitude infused with as much self-effacing good humor as possible. It’s nothing I really did intentionally, it is simply who I am: my father’s son, with inherited sensibilities to live my life thinking the glass is half full, until it’s not.
And so far, nearly nine years into a “13 month to two-year” prognosis, I’m living proof that either whatever I’m doing is working (and there’s a bit more to the story) or I’m an incredibly lucky act of kindness for which there’s no quantifiable explanation. Regardless, I’m not the least bit inclined to look a gift horse in the mouth and/or deny the possibility that my tumors are necrotic (dead). I’m very happy to accept the inexplicable fact that, statistically speaking, I’m an official anomaly: a stage IV, non-small cell lung cancer survivor.
However, since I’m not one to presume facts not yet in evidence, I’m still infused every six weeks, scanned quarterly and seen by my oncologist every three months. I don’t for a second believe that somehow, after being diagnosed with a “terminal disease” in late Feb., 2009, that life goes merrily along without consequences. Not that I’m a fatalist – Rebecca, I’m merely evaluating/introspecting/compartmentalizing and allocating precious emotional resources so I can live my life as I’m accustomed to doing.
And what I’m most accustomed to doing, especially dating back to Dec., 1997, is writing a weekly column for Connection Newspapers. Though the columns published previous to June ’09 were not “cancer” columns, as we call them, they were nonetheless written with the same passion and nonsensical prose as my “cancer” columns are. So, generally speaking, I am able, as my brother Richard says, “to churn out the dribble.”
Still, writing is not like reading. Though a similar commitment is needed, writing requires a bit more effort. And it’s been an effort I’ve sustained before, after and during my lung cancer diagnosis. Some weeks are harder than others. Last week was difficult. This week not so much. Perhaps you agree?