Chemotherapy is a word that strikes fear into the hearts of most of us. We’ve seen the movies and heard such horrible stories about undergoing this difficult treatment procedure for a disease that could as well kill.
I have been going through chemo treatments since early April. This is not a case where they caught it early, so chemo will be a long-term thing. Since the very minute I heard the word “malignancy” back in the hospital in March I’ve been dug into the word even more than before. It was an odd feeling when they told me what I had, and I told them it was all good, because God’s got this.
My response was immediate. There was a peace inside of me even at the moment they uttered the word “cancer”.
I know that things may not turn out the way I’d like HERE, but I have confidence that there will be healing AFTER. And isn’t that what really counts? Eternity? I’ve been spending a lot of time reading the bible, especially several epistles written by Paul. He was in prison when he wrote a lot of those letters, and physical illness like cancer can be very much like being in prison. Paul was at peace knowing that he might or might not ever live outside that prison again. And that’s my current situation.
One thing that I find as distressing as anything as a person with cancer is the absence of predictability. Well, I guess I can always predict that I won’t be able to predict how things will go. I can usually predict that I’ll be going to the hospital at least two Thursdays in a month for an infusion of Bleomycin, but even that is a toss-up. It all depends on my bloodwork. If it’s good, then I go in for the chemo. If not, then I don’t go, and things change quickly.
What I mean by the absence of predictability is more the idea that when I get up in the morning, I have no idea whether I’ll have any energy, will be lucid, or how much pain I’ll be in, and in which part of my body. As I write this, I’m feeling a bit tired and ‘dizzy’, even disoriented because of my daily dose of morphine. I feel like I have a hangover. I don’t like it. I’ll go down for a nap soon. I’ll see if that helps. There’s no predicting.
Slip slidin’ away
I recently read about some individuals who opted for MAID (Medical Assistance in Death). The reports from their relatives (or from themselves) suggest that they went gently into the night under conditions of their own making. Ive also read about others who have either not had the time to set up MAID, or who, for whatever reason, chose to let things run their course and for whom the pain of dying was muted with the help of morphine or other pain killer.
After reading their stories, it strikes me that slipping gracefully into death is not a fate most of us will share. I don’t know what the billions of people in the poorer parts of the world suffer as they approach death. I know that in some places where wars are still all too common, death by a bullet or a machete are a fate that await many people. Death by poverty is all too common. It’s true that death awaits us all, but the conditions of dying are not democratic. Considering all living things on this planet, dying is generally shunned.
The other day, while trying to arrange some stuff, I inadvertently disturbed a tiny insect who was minding its own business in and around the vanity lights. It took off, scurrying like mad, wanting to live another day, I surmised. It did not want to die.
As biological organisms we tend to cling to life for all it’s worth. Obviously, there are exceptions to this rule. Even for people who commit suicide, I suspect (with no hard evidence whatsoever) that it’s not life they are escaping, but unrelenting pain, physical and/or mental. I’m sure that they would gladly continue living if the pain would only go away. I think that’s true of people who choose MAID as well as those who commit suicide in any number of non-sanctioned ways.
As for me, its one thought at a time, one task at a time, and one day at a time.
Stay safe y’all