Cancer Sucks

October 20, 2007 by susan
bracelet saying, cancer sucks

Barbara writes:
David's tumor (esophageal) is malignant. CT-Scan shows no metastasizing, but that’s not guaranteed. He needs an endoscopic ultrasound, likely at HCMC, and hopefully sooner than later.
I am fine. No I’m not. Yes I am. No I’m not. Googling has not been reassuring. I’m scared. No I’m not. Yes I am. FUCK. (repeat as needed)
Of course there's more.

Susan writes:
I went to a poetry reading last night, and one writer, Susan (Sam) King, read from her book called One Breasted Woman.The book is about her experience with breast cancer -- getting the diagnosis, the terror, the sadness, and some of the good stuff that came about in the end as well. (She's alive and well, so that sort of end.)
There's a poem about boiling down all the bad news and one day a new, annealed shape comes out of the fire and it's quite strong and beautiful. I'm not doing it justice, but she talks of so many things that you're going through. How she sees people on the street getting on with their lives and divides the world into those with cancer and those without -- and no longer feels any connection to those without.
And she writes of some of the later transformative leaps -- seeing a broken bird's egg on the street in front of her house and picturing the predator who got it, the savage death, the crushed life, and later realizes that maybe it was, instead, a shell from birthing, a new life pecking out into the sky, an opening. Mainly she re-enforces what Perhansa said about all else becoming background noise when someone is seriously ill.

So I get it that your mantra for now is, "I'm scared. No I'm not. Yes I am. FUCK." (She has a poem on that too, how the profanities fly when you are confronting death.) That's the natural and honest mantra. But at some point you'll have to start some optimistic ones too, force yourself into them, like assuming the lotus position when you're new and stiff, knowing that you will eventually come to fit the practice.
Start with a modest, "I'm fine." Because that you are. You're more than fine, you're strong and smart and pragmatic and will chart a course through this. Then move on to "David's fine." He's taken care of himself, so he starts at a far better place to fight this than someone who hasn't. Together you're made of iron. You may continue with the "This sucks" as the background mantra, the wallpaper, but you have to add "We'll get through this and out the other side."
Or how about, "Health care system sucks, but we have good doctors"? Nah, lacks magic. How about, "Love is all you need . . ." Aw, fukkit. No it isn't.
Okay, how about visualizations. Visualize David being well and coming through the door in the dusk after a satisfying lope through the neighborhood. It does happen you know. At our age we know far too many people who have gotten this terrifying cancer diagnosis, but so many of them are still around-- and still crazy after all these years. And cancer-free as well. He will be too.
Hang in there.
On the bright side, sort of takes your mind off of Bushco. But tomorrow I think the CLB will return to bidness. Anyone see Jeremy Scahill, author and expert on Blackwater, on Moyers Journal tonight? Holy moly.
But what we're really thinking about is you two. Keep us posted.

Posted in


perhansa (not verified) | October 20, 2007 - 11:16am

So sorry for you and David to hear the diagnosis. Hopefully, the prognosis may not be as dire if it was found soon enough. Hang in there we're all thinking of you and we'd pray if there was a god to pray to...


B (not verified) | October 20, 2007 - 8:22pm

Life is precious.
Handle it with care.
Hugs to you, Barbara.
You know the fight.
Worth it again.
So, chin up.
March forward.
And know that we are all in this together.


Anonymous (not verified) | October 20, 2007 - 11:48pm

With all that energy and spirit, you ideserve cheers and gratitude and loving wishes from us faithful readers. Scary time even with all the stories we know about friends who get thru this stuff and come out OK. We're on your side Barbara and hope for good reports soon.