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Jay Lake
Date: 2009-05-11 05:08
Subject: [cancer] The Fear, nibbling
Security: Public
Tags:calendula, cancer, child, personal
So I haven't been having a full blown attack of the Fear, but I seem to be slipping into an increasing maze of worry and emotional unreliability. The one year followups are Thursday and Friday. Oversimplifying, that's where I get to find out if my life goes back to normal. If my colon, lymph system and liver are clean, the cancer wasn't aggressive, and life goes on. If I'm developing new polyps, or have spots in lymph or liver, the cancer was aggressive, and we do whatever we need to do next.

I'm tired of the Fear. (Which I think means it's losing its power over me, but not this day.) I'm tired of being cancer boy. I'm healthy and fit — more so in both cases since last year's illness than any time since my college years. Life is good. I have the love of the_child and calendula_witch, I have an interesting writing career, I have a stable Day Jobbe. I don't want to go back to cancerland. I want to keep this normal life I won back at such cost.

Nobody thinks I'm going to get a return ticket to cancerland. My doctor is optimistic. My baseline health is a terrifically positive indicator. But until they've gone in and looked this Thursday and Friday, we don't know. And the Fear has developed a conjoined twin; the Doubt. In some ways, the Doubt is tougher. I can shrug the Fear off, I know it for what it is. The Doubt has a tinge of reasonableness to it which the Fear never achieved.

I grow my own monsters, thank you very much. Both in my gut and in my soul. I can slay them. And I will.

But they're still real.

Originally published at jlake.com.

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User: lauriemann
Date: 2009-05-11 13:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I hope all goes well.
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John A Pitts
User: bravado111
Date: 2009-05-11 13:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
We become expert dragon slayers in our time. I'm sure you will look back on this week with relief and hope.

You have an ample army at our back, my friend. Lean on us if you feel the need.
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User: scarlettina
Date: 2009-05-11 14:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
What he said.
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Deborah Layne
User: deborahlive
Date: 2009-05-11 20:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yeah, what they said. Stay strong.
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kitlizzy: A - Stones
User: kitlizzy
Date: 2009-05-11 13:44 (UTC)
Subject: On doubt and cancer
Keyword:A - Stones
Waiting to find out is not easy.

I find it comforting to be able to look at the hard statistics for the age, gender, location and type of cancer I have and say, hey, by the numbers, I've got about this much time left. It makes it very simple, and that's a relief to me, to not have the uncertainty.

We know it's a baddie, and we know it'll get me. And while I dislike waiting to find out just exactly when it will (3 years? 5 years?), I know mostly what's going to happen to me and how, and that takes a huge burden off, oddly.

Thank you for talking about this, by the way - I lack the eloquence to be able to frame things the way you do.
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Jay Lake: cancer_tumor
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-05-11 14:14 (UTC)
Subject: Re: On doubt and cancer
You're welcome. And thank you for commenting. My stats, frankly, are fine. I'm 95%/5 year survival, and if I'm clear this week, that 95/5 will be pessimistic. Four more years and I'll be general population. So while my place is different from yours, I completely understand what you're saying.

I do talk about this precisely because I know it can be so hard to talk about. I'm glad it's helpful to you.
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Shauna Lee Raven
User: shauna_lee
Date: 2009-05-11 16:02 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm very glad you're doing so well, and as someone who lost a family member to cancer I have some small understanding of the fear. All my best wishes you have a good checkup.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-05-11 17:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Your path is much tougher than mine, my friend. Good luck to you both.
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frabjouslinz: twokitties
User: frabjouslinz
Date: 2009-05-11 17:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thinking of you.
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User: fledgist
Date: 2009-05-11 18:05 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
All we can do is hold on to a little bit of hope.
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calendula_witch: arms
User: calendula_witch
Date: 2009-05-11 18:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I will be there soon. :-) Hang in there.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-05-11 20:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Hanging. Thank you.
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User: michaeljasper
Date: 2009-05-11 18:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Dude -- you rock. Thanks for taking time to chat with me today with all this other stuff going on in your life! I owe you a beverage of your choice next time I'm in Portland.
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User: karenjunker
Date: 2009-05-11 18:26 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
We are thinking of you and sending you the bright...
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miki garrison: kiss
User: mikigarrison
Date: 2009-05-11 18:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
*hugs* I have faith in your semi-colon, even more faith in your doctors, and endless faith in you. Hang in there.
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User: e_bourne
Date: 2009-05-11 19:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Waiting is hard. I'm sorry you have to go through all this tough stuff. We can make lots of silver linings from the clouds in our lives, but it still doesn't make it pleasant. Good luck with the tests and may they all go swimmingly, assuming you like swimming.
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User: melissajm
Date: 2009-05-11 22:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I hope all goes well.
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User: djmahon
Date: 2009-05-12 00:28 (UTC)
Subject: Yes, the waiting is hard...
...but the finding out, one way or another, is something of a relief. I can also relate to your feelings on fear and doubt--Lord knows, there were days I felt nothing but.

My advice for dealing with the doubt is this: your monsters--Fear and Doubt--are not Real, even if they are real. You can feel them, experience them, even describe them, but they have no power in of themselves--they only have the power that we give them. They only have power over you when you allow them to.

The fact of the matter is, you've already slain your monster; now all you have to do is learn to ignore its ghost. It's not easy, as you know, but it is doable.

Take care.
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2009-05-12 04:52 (UTC)
Subject: The Fear, Nibbling
Jay, hugs. Been there, done that, still have the lucky sweatshirt I wore to every chemo.

The Fear is much better that it used to be, but every year I still get twitchy nibbles around my anniversary.

(14 years post ovarian cancer)
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