Friday, April 23, 2010

Warrior #1: Frank

I am Frank, a 61 year old, 7 year survivor of Multiple myeloma. My note attempts to consider the range of feelings, fears and wonder that has imprinted my awareness since learning I have cancer. Like many I work through or more accurately consider as I breathe, the finality of the inevitable; thoughts which strike suddenly, randomly, at any time of night or day.

Thanks for looking in:

Living with cancer can seem overwhelming at times. There is no point in self pity but fatigue, psychological and physical, is a great and destructive weight on the will.

The exigencies of the treatment process steal time from everyday obligations, which continue unabated with the intensity, complexity and unrelenting demands that have always been. The need to be at work is no longer related to career advancement or a bigger bonus. Keeping the job, no matter what it takes to be in early and consistently, is critical as a way to maintain the insurance that pays for the expensive treatment of advancing cancer. Medical appointments take time from work so you sacrifice vacations to avoid becoming an afterthought to management.

The work around the house has to get done; dogs must be walked, tax documents organized for the accountant, the kids helped with homework, spousal disagreements negotiated, and the trash taken out. Chunks of time for treatments like radiation and chemo therapy, blood tests, bone marrow biopsies, drug infusion, and for some, major procedures like a stem cell transplant, must be normalized to the schedule of your life.

Diminished family time forces decisions like retirement from coaching kids’ soccer or quashing a formalized date night with a significant other. Private time is over but for the brief stretch of time between hitting the pillow at bedtime, and the 3 a.m. adrenalin jacked awakening to a cacophony of dreamed voices shouting mad, clamorous demands.

Comes the dawn, you throw back the warm covers and drive off the phalanx of importunate obligations, rising resolutely to meet each new day. Awareness exists with every conversation, however insignificant it might seem, that one’s being is visible in other eyes, a recognition of a distinct, vibrant presence.

From time to time there happens a moment, alone in the elevator at the close of the business day perhaps, or while sitting apart in the crowded waiting room of the Dana Farber Clinic. Lonely thoughts go to those you love and worry for; those who bring joy to your life and at the same time rely on hearing your voice, responding to the emotional and intellectual significance of that sound in their lives.

The anticipation of a stunningly abrupt end to this living vibration and the inexorable fading of your presence from the minds of loved ones, the absolute extinguishing of one’s voice for all time, are terrifying to contemplate as the time draws near. Thus the desperate fight to live for one more day, one more hour or one more breath, refusing to submit to the dissolution and dispersion of 'you', into the black void of the universe.

You can follow Frank's blog at Be Still and Know That I Am God

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