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[cancer] Things I am afraid of - Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2009-07-12 06:57
Subject: [cancer] Things I am afraid of
Security: Public
Tags:calendula, cancer, child, family, personal, writing
It hasn't been my best week. Cancer follies are on hold til July 20th, from a purely medical perspective — appointment then for a follow-up CT scan is the opening measure of the next portion of this symphony. But I spent this past week at my parents' beach house on the Long Beach peninsula of scenic Washington State, mostly being quite ill with an upper respiratory infection. This did not lend itself to rational consideration of life options, though I did get several very good conversations in with Mom and Dad nonetheless.

Lots more to say, and I'll be saying it here, but this morning I've been noodling with the idea of all the things I'm afraid of. Many of these are no rational, but rationality has never been a prerequisite for existential dread. Most of them are not formless. My fears have very definite form, thank you. (Wonder Twins power activate: in the form of a tumor!) But I find it useful to drag the fears out into the light, turn them over a few times and think about them. That seems to disarm some of their power, and makes me feel better.

So, things I am afraid of:
  • Dying soon

  • Dying slow

  • Dying fast

  • Not seeing the_child graduate from high school (or even 8th grade)

  • Chemo head

  • Playing whack-a-mole with this shit til it kills me

  • Losing myself in a fog of illness and never coming back

  • Losing my ability to write

  • Losing my desire to write

  • The look in my parents' eyes

  • My daughter's tears

  • That I'll be so sick I won't be attractive to calendula_witch any more

  • That I'll spend the rest of my life smelling sick

  • That I'll get too thin on chemo

  • That I'll grow too big on chemo

  • That I won't be able to work and my life will collapse financially


It goes on from there. You get the idea. Hamsters chase one another through my head with alarming alacrity. Irrational or not, they're real. As chemo grows closer, I dread it more and more. The next CT scan will tell us whether I have tumors on my lungs. I dread that. Every piece of bad news is a strike against my mortality. My life. Myself.

Still, I carry on. Because there are no other choices except to spit at it and fight. I am so tired of being afraid.

Originally published at jlake.com.

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Kari Sperring
User: la_marquise_de_
Date: 2009-07-12 15:05 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Best wishes.
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southernweirdo
User: southernweirdo
Date: 2009-07-12 15:26 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I don't comment often, but I do read your posts frequently, and I admire your bravery and honesty. Thanks for being so open about what you are going through.

Stay strong and keep fighting, Jay! There are a lot of us out here rooting for you!
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sheelangig
User: sheelangig
Date: 2009-07-12 15:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

Jay, honey, in my experience with Pam, the best antidote for fear was laughter. However you can get it. Consider deliberately adding 30 minutes of comedy to your daily schedule, whatever it is that makes you laugh until you fall off your chair. In Pam's case, it was *really* good bad movies and Dr. Demento CDs.
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Lisa Deutsch Harrigan: Flashing Tink
User: lisa_marli
Date: 2009-07-12 16:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Flashing Tink
*hugs*
Hair grows back - your weight will do what it wants, but in the long run it will be what it needs to be - Chemo brain goes away after a few months - and I think calendula-witch fell in love with more than just your good looks.
So we'll pray for the best for you.
And hand out more hugs and spoons.
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calendula_witch: arms
User: calendula_witch
Date: 2009-07-12 20:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:arms
Yep. All that. :-)
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-07-13 00:30 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I love you.
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jtdiii
User: jtdiii
Date: 2009-07-12 16:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I only spent a few weeks with the fear when I was showing the same symptoms as my project leader and manager back in the late 90s, when the one was scheduled for a triple and the other a quadruple bypass. They finally decided it was Lyme disease and three weeks of massive antibiotics stopped the chest pains and nerve tremors. The manager died twice before the operation...

I only have a glimmer of what you are going through, but hang in there. Your friends, your family and those that care about you are rooting for you and hold you in their hearts. Go hug the child and your sweetie, and keep fighting.

You made it through this once already, you can do it again.

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coreolis
User: curiositist
Date: 2009-07-12 16:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
**hug**
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anghara
User: anghara
Date: 2009-07-12 16:54 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Oh, JAY.

There's not much I can say or do. I've never been in this scary place. But if it helps, there are people rooting for you - EVERYwhere - and to paraphrase Spider Robinson a tad a shared fear may not be precisely halved but it can definitely be lessened by a properly targeted response. I wish you all the best, I wish that these fears are just phantoms and will melt away, and I'll be thinking about you and sending every good vibe I can muster come late July.

Being afraid is the human thing to be. But if ever you need a reassuring word, call on all of us out here - family and friends. We'll be there.
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User: csinman
Date: 2009-07-12 17:31 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think you're already doing the right thing, slapping up a list of stuff that's scaring the hell out of you so you can see how tiny and frail those items look when they're clinging to bullet points.

And ironically, I can't think of a funny way to agree with sheelangig's advice, but I very much do agree.
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User: joycemocha
Date: 2009-07-12 18:19 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You need to look at it. You need to face it. And then you need to laugh--the prescription below of 30 minutes of humor a day is crucial. Be kind to yourself while still maintaining high standards. It's a knife's edge to walk.

You are not alone.

You're doing the right thing, my friend. And there are plenty of us here to help you.
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auriaephiala
User: auriaephiala
Date: 2009-07-12 18:30 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Those are all reasonable fears. It doesn't mean they'll happen, though.

As a counter, can I point to a friend of mine, who had breast cancer, went through the whole surgery/chemo thing for several years, and then went back and successfully researched and wrote her thesis and received her PhD. She's now healthy,

Best of luck.
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robin catesby
User: deedop
Date: 2009-07-12 18:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Aw, hon. {{{{HUGS}}}}
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Samantha Ling
User: lingtm
Date: 2009-07-12 18:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Having these fears is natural. It means that you still care to stick around, so it means that you'll work hard at surviving it. All the physical stuff comes and goes. And the people who love you do so because of who you are and now how you look like. I don't think any of us are that shallow.

This isn't to say that your fears are unfounded. They are legitimate fears. But you're strong and you'll pull through and you'll continue to write more words in a day than I do in a month. I mean, who else would I have to shake my fist at when I see word counts like that?

Chris and I are keeping you in our thoughts. *hugs*
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mevennen
User: mevennen
Date: 2009-07-12 19:06 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I cannot obviously speak for Calendula Witch but generally the last thing one gives a toss about is the attractiveness of one's partner. You just want them to be all right.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-07-12 19:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I know it's utterly illogical. But our, erm, freakish mutual attraction is anchored in part (at the purely physical level) in the mighty power of pheromones, and I just don't carry the same scent when I'm medication. Which has nothing to do with how much she loves me, etc. etc., but it's one of those dumb things I find to be worried about and afraid of.
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calendula_witch: arms
User: calendula_witch
Date: 2009-07-12 20:25 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:arms
The scent, if it changes, will change back. And all the while, I will still love you.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-07-13 00:30 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I know you love me for far more than that. Thank Ghu, or we'd be in trouble every time I needed a shower...
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threeoutside
User: threeoutside
Date: 2009-07-12 19:10 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Sending good thoughts your way from Omaha, dood:

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jetse
User: jetse
Date: 2009-07-12 19:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Jay--

My father died, totally unexpected, from an aneurism in his aorta while he was in Moscow for the day job (and yes: I'm having myself checked for this).

I regret many things after his death: he didn't see me, my brother and my sister graduate and develop good lives. He didn't see the Iron Curtain come down (he'd been behind it several times: in Russia, in Poland: he liked the people, he hated the dictatorships), he didn't see Apartheid end (he was in South Africa for the day job, and became physically ill when he experienced the way black people were treated).

Man: beat this disease. I sure hope you do: there will be so many great things to experience, to look forward to.

What can I say? The future is worth the fight.

I wish you all the strength you need, and then some more.
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The NewroticGirl
User: newroticgirl
Date: 2009-07-12 20:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
<3
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kzmiller
User: kzmiller
Date: 2009-07-12 21:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Ditto the daily humor fix. Seriously make time for the funnies--old standbys, and search for new favorites. Stand up, comedy movies, shows, comics, watching goofy You Tube vids, old family movies, B-movie mock-fests with friends, theater, books--you know what makes you laugh. Do it now, with friends and family, and every day.
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User: jess_ka
Date: 2009-07-12 21:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Definitely good to drag the fears out into the light, and do it as many times as you need to. Then enjoy the light and feel the love, because I know you are very loved.
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dinogrl
User: dinogrl
Date: 2009-07-12 22:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
We care and we love you, no matter how you'll smell.
Sheesh.
Shallow, much? I don't think so!

I agree with the assessments on laughter therapy.

We'll talk more next week, for now...LAUGH it up, Monkey Boy!

http://www.emaxhealth.com/1020/51/27003/cancer-treatment-enhanced-through-laughter.html
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Kate Schaefer
User: kate_schaefer
Date: 2009-07-13 00:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Those fears? Not unreasonable. But the cancer isn't all you are, and the fears aren't all you are, either. You have large quantities of bravery, too, and you will be able to call upon that bravery. You will.

Make sure to live until you die.
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Bibbit
User: bridget_coila
Date: 2009-07-13 08:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Those are some scary fears... but I think your bravery and your friend/loved ones support system is bigger and more kick-ass than any of those things you fear.

You will win this.

B
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