Dear Cancer Patient,
To the cancer community and to the cancer patient who writes in a support group online, “I'm very sad.”
I'm very sad too -
I'm sad for you -
I'm sad for me -
I'm sad for my loved one who is now going through radiation treatments for breast cancer, after surgery and they nearly blew her away with chemo, she had a bad reaction to,
I'm sad for my loved one who lost her 20-year-old daughter to illness and then went through breast cancer without her.
I'm sad that died today. When I found out about it, I started crying and I haven't cried like this in a long time.
I usually try to keep the thoughts of recurrence at bay and ignore it, pretending that black cloud of uncertainty is not hanging over my head. When I heard that Steve Jobs died tonight, it hit hard and it was personal. I'm 51 years old and he died today at age 56, which seems way too young and way too soon to me.
Dear cancer patient, I know how you feel. I can read your words and truly understand when you say, "I can feel my body is deteriorating. My bones hurt and I feel like I'm rotting inside. Those people that are lucky enough to be healthy can not understand how hard it is to deal with this kind of situation."
I'm a chronic pain patient too. After a wreck in 2002 which left me with permanent nerve damage/chronic pain and then colorectal cancer in 2006, I have been in some level of pain/fatigue/suffering every day for the past nine years. I know people who have suffered more years than me and less years than me. When I met some of these long term pain patients in the beginning of this journey, I couldn't imagine how they managed to cope. I thought, "how can I possibly keep living like this?" And yet, I did live, I did cope. And all these years, you have too. One step at a time, one foot in front of the other, happy or sad, we just keep going or we don't. And when it ends, we don't "lose our battle with cancer," as so many say. We are not losers. We just die.
Most of the time now, I am happy. This past year, I have finally been finding a way and I've been feeling very positive. When I read what you wrote, my heart went out to you because I get it. We get it. We cancer people, we know what it feels like for every cell in your body to hurt, when other healthy people really just can't comprehend what that means.
You wrote, "I am hoping for a little quality of life". I want you to have quality of life too. I have no advice for you. I just have caring. I have empathy.
Within the cancer community, I think I've found the most valuable thing for me is this understanding, this sharing we can have, to know that we are not alone in our suffering. We can share our feelings with others who feel those feelings, people who care that we are going through these things as best as we can. These are the people who do not offer empty platitudes, who do not belittle us.
Tomorrow, I'll smile and be pleasant and do my best, as I do every day. Tonight, I cried for you, for me, for my loved ones, for Steve Jobs, for all of us dealing with the grim and gruesome aspects of cancer.
Here is a video of Steve Jobs giving a Commencement Speech in 2005. He talks about the quality of living life, and I think it's a great inspiration to all of us as we keep on keeping on.
Much love, Sarah Dees