?

Log in

No account? Create an account
[cancer] Coping with the future - Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2011-02-14 05:21
Subject: [cancer] Coping with the future
Security: Public
Tags:cancer, health, personal, work, writing
I haven't said very much about the cancer lately. I haven't needed to. Healthwise, other than some weight control issues apparently due to chemo-induced shifts in my metabolism, for the moment I'm fine. Just had a general physical wherein my fasting glucose measured very well, my mediocre cholesterol levels were improved, thyroid function checked out good, blood pressure was quite reasonable, and so forth. The forthcoming scans in April are entirely a game of probabilities, as with so much of oncology. The odds there are slightly in my favor, and almost entirely out of my control.

All I can do is live my life.

And so I have been doing so. I've really emphasized spending time with old friends and new, and have been getting out more in multiple senses of that term. It's been a lot of fun. "Fun" being a commodity much absent from my life last year.

But my view of the future is very distorted in some unhealthy ways. I continue to wrestle with a failure to effectively cope with my cancer fears.

The ground state of my personality is a somewhat buoyant optimism. On a day to day basis, I have almost entirely recovered that. But at the moment, I have a bad case of short-timer attitude regarding my future. I feel overwhelmed by the possibility of going through another round of surgery and chemo. I feel overwhelmed by my long-term survival statistics. It's not the sharp end of the medical stick that's bothering me, it's the cloud of probabilities at the other end of that stick.

Like many people and most writers, I have an objective observer in my head. It often manifests as something approaching a literal narrative voiceover. Sometimes I feel like I'm in my own private fanfic of Wild Kingdom. "The common or garden variety American science fiction writer approaches the potentially receptive female. Notice the courting display of aloha shirt and witty remarks, designed to catch her attention long enough to overcome the initial evaluation of 'badly-dressed middle-aged fat guy.'"

On the cancer stuff, my objective observer is not the least bit confused. I'm quite clear that while I need to live in the moment — don't we all? — I also need to keep a weather eye on the future. Everything in my life, from parenting to my books to my professional existence to my social interactions, extends indefinitely into that future. There's nothing magic about April and the scans, it's just a thing I will do. Whatever the results are, I will process them and take the appropriate measures.

My objective observer is having a heck of a time telling that to my emotional self. I'm living with the mild cognitive dissonance of simultaneous clear-eyed acceptance and controlled panic.

Of course I am finding my way through. That day to day optimism is seeping downward like an oil spill into groundwater. I am tired of this difficult emotional space, even bored with it — a very good sign, I know from experience. And I resent the power I have granted cancer over my life in allowing it to dominate my thinking.

Taking that power back is not as simple as deciding to take it back. Yet, in the end, it is.

Cancer is not for sissies. Also, I don't recommend it as a hobby.

Post A Comment | 23 Comments | | Link






Kari Sperring
User: la_marquise_de_
Date: 2011-02-14 13:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Nothing constructive to say, other than that I am thinking of you. Hug.
Kari
Reply | Thread | Link



Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-02-14 18:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thank you.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



Lawrence M. Schoen
User: klingonguy
Date: 2011-02-14 13:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
...designed to catch her attention long enough to overcome the initial evaluation of 'badly-dressed middle-aged fat guy.'

This is all covered in the newly revised Handbook for the Secret Society of Bearded, Divorced, Middle-Aged Writers of Unusual Size. When in doubt, consult your handbook.
Reply | Thread | Link



Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-02-14 18:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Ah, the good old HSSBDMAWUS. Or "hissdumbwuss", as we like to call it.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Jay Lake: jay-dramatic
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-02-14 22:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:jay-dramatic
Ah, the marvels of self-image. Luckily, I'm having a good time...
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



User: joycemocha
Date: 2011-02-14 14:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think part of it is that you're in that limbo moment wondering what's going on with the possibility of metastasis. Hopefully all will be clear in April, unlike previous situations.

It's a matter of time and, as you say yourself, savoring and living in the moments you have.

Hugs.
Reply | Thread | Link



User: joycemocha
Date: 2011-02-14 14:02 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
(oh and as for the internal monologue? Dude, I am so there. You should hear mine sometimes)
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



martyn44
User: martyn44
Date: 2011-02-14 14:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
'I don't recommend it as a hobby', and definitely not as a full time occupation. Stay strong and remember the restorative powers of laughing in the face of the abyss.
Reply | Thread | Link



W. Lotus: Peaceful
User: wlotus
Date: 2011-02-14 15:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Peaceful
Cancer is not for sissies. Also, I don't recommend it as a hobby.

Thank you for the advice. I shall be sure to look for other hobbies. :-)

Some months ago I mentioned my mother beginning treatment for breast cancer, and you encouraged me. Thank you. Mom is doing quite well, having come through chemo and surgery with flying colors. When the drain comes out, she will begin radiation. So far everything has gone according to the doctors' plans, and for that we are thankful.
Reply | Thread | Link



Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-02-14 18:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I am glad I could help. And I can definitely recommend the advice of keikaimalu (who is also a friend IRL and a good egg).
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



Keikaimalu
User: keikaimalu
Date: 2011-02-14 19:04 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thanks, Jay. And now that I've said my piece, I think I shall crawl back into the woodwork once more and erase my posts, knowing they've been read by those I wanted to read them.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



W. Lotus
User: wlotus
Date: 2011-03-08 18:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thank you for your piece. Mom and I appreciate the advice!
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



ubiquitous_a: drhorrible-shoulderdance
User: ubiquitous_a
Date: 2011-02-14 15:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:drhorrible-shoulderdance
"Cancer is not for sissies. Also, I don't recommend it as a hobby."

If you ever decide to write a book about your ordeal with cancer, I highly suggest you use this as the title. :)

Reply | Thread | Link



Jay Lake: funny-samples_image
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-02-14 16:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:funny-samples_image
Snerk.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-02-14 18:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Deleted or not, thank you. Yes, this.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



nancyfulda
User: nancyfulda
Date: 2011-02-14 17:19 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Cancer is not for sissies. Also, I don't recommend it as a hobby.

Ha! With you all the way, there.
Reply | Thread | Link



mlerules: Maypole
User: mlerules
Date: 2011-02-14 18:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Maypole
Is there anything I can do to help?

Yeah, yeah, I haven't known you that long, but nonetheless I'm sincere in my qx.
Reply | Thread | Link



Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-02-14 18:42 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thank you, but it is what it is. Simply by being a friend, you are doing what is needful.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



oaksylph: ash
User: oaksylph
Date: 2011-02-14 22:49 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:ash
Since every choice we make, we make in the face of some fear - profoundly valid and utterly disruptive fears like yours, or fears caused by cruel people, or fears of difference or change or loss, or even small or even silly fears - since, in fact, fear is the human condition - we must look to love for clarity. Fear turns inward; love turns outward; so only with love can we gain enough perspective to make wise choices.

I know, the choir, I'm preaching to it, but here's my point: Jay, grab that little objective observer by his suspiciously clerical collar and tell him he's got no right to tell your emotional self how to feel just because he thinks he knows how your story is going to go. Your emotional self is dealing with a bewildering hurricane of terrors whipping up hell around your naturally open and loving motivations, and that's okay.

Because your narrator's objectivity may give you courage (good), but your emotional self gives you something precious, too. The love at the heart of your fear is what enables you to perceive the moment in which you know you need to live.

Imagine dusk. Before the night, there is a beautiful moment in which the colors of day saturate, and then as they darken, there is another beautiful moment in which people feel an impulse to speak more freely. Let the beauty in, and then let your internal narrator and your emotional self talk. Each has a crucial gift your optimism will need. Each needs the strengths of the other. Love yourself, both parts of you. Clearer judgment will follow.
Reply | Thread | Link



Jay Lake: sanguine-heron
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-02-15 17:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:sanguine-heron
Thank you
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



emmainfiniti
User: emmainfiniti
Date: 2011-02-15 11:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Perhaps the Wild Kingdom internal monologue metaphor is more apt than you think. Wasn't Marlin Perkins always the calm, detached storyteller while Jim was wrestling the wild gators or swimming with piranha? Maybe if you embrace your inner "Jim" and let that aspect of your persona wrestle with the cancer fears, then it could reduce the sense of conflict/cognitive dissonance.

Reply | Thread | Link



Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-02-15 13:49 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Curiously, I was discussing precisely this idea with my mother yesterday evening...
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



emmainfiniti
User: emmainfiniti
Date: 2011-02-16 02:48 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I am intimately acquainted with using my various personas to deal with the craziness in my life. It is sort of an intentional multiple personality division (hopefully without the "disorder")that seems to work fairly well for those of us with rich imaginary worlds.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



browse
my journal
links
January 2014
2012 appearances