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[cancer] A bit more on why I worked on the index just now - Lakeshore
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Jay Lake
Date: 2011-09-29 05:54
Subject: [cancer] A bit more on why I worked on the index just now
Security: Public
Tags:cancer, health, personal

I’ve been challenged several times over the past few days about why I have been working on the index to my cancer blogging just now. These remarks have come in conversation with my therapist and family, in blog comments from readers, and in emails from friends. After all, the last couple of weeks have been pretty atrociously difficult for me, between the epic GI problems of a week and a half ago, the difficult conversations with [info]the_child‘s therapist, the immune system crash with its concomitant postponement of chemotherapy and the social isolation induced by my precautions, as well as my fears about the spike in my CEA levels.

Why, I have been asked, am I hitting myself on the head with the hammer of memory when my daily life is already deeply stressing?

Several reasons. The simplest is that this needed to be done, I’d committed months ago to trying to do it this fall, and now was when I had the time, post-Kalimpura, post-Sunspin and pre-getting persistently lost in the chemo brainfog. Keeping my professional commitments is very important to me, and from my perspective, this was a professional commitment.

It’s not like things are going to get any better for me over the next few months, so the “why right now” argument amounts to a “why not do it in the middle of next year” argument, which I find unacceptable.

Secondly, a real important part of my cancer journey, for me, has been the process of being a witness for cancer. As I mentioned in the index post, I get as much fan mail off my cancer these days as I do off my fiction. A lot of it says things along the lines of “You’ve helped me cope with my spouse’s cancer” or “You’ve helped find the words to explain my illness to my family” or “You’ve helped me understand the things my parent wouldn’t say before they died.” By Ghu, if I can make something constructive out of this horrible, pointless experience, then I have drawn some victory from the jaws of debilitation. Assembling the index is an important part of keeping my words about cancer fresh for other people who haven’t been with me on this journey since the beginning.

Thirdly, though it was kind of a head buster walking down memory lane with my ever declining health and the collapse of my cherished primary relationship, it was also cathartic. These are events with an intense hold over me, as you can imagine. At the same time, I have been working pretty hard to break that hold, to live for myself and my future, such as it is, instead of dwelling in the past. Looking through those elements of my life amounts to a letting go.

I’m not erasing anyone or anything from my history. I’m just trying to release some of the soul-crushing load it represents for me. Working on that index just now, in the face of everything going on, has been an important part of that process for me.

Originally published at jlake.com. You can comment here or there.

Post A Comment | 11 Comments | | Link






fjm
User: fjm
Date: 2011-09-29 13:25 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Personally, I find that when things are really stressful, a bit of bookshelf/kitchen/paperwork organisation can be rather soothing.
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cathshaffer
User: cathshaffer
Date: 2011-09-29 13:44 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I kind of want to fire your therapist. I was shocked when he/she told you that your investment of love and energy in parenting your daughter would be wasted if you die. (Or maybe that was your daughter's therapist.) Be that as it may, just because they have a certificate hanging on the wall doesn't mean they actually know what they're doing. :-/

I'm guessing you feel overall that the therapist is doing a good job, but dang. You're a writer. This is the kind of stuff writers DO.
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User: joycemocha
Date: 2011-09-29 13:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
What she said. Those comments were somewhat on the "leave me gobsmacked" side, especially since that doesn't jibe with my real life experience of kids and what I know of your daughter.

However, I also have a tainted experience with therapists and look at what they say with a very jaded eye (long story, but if I'd listened to what the last one I went to said, I'd be long divorced instead of getting ready to celebrate year thirty of a most excellent relationship. Didn't have a choice because of EAP).
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-09-29 14:02 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
For the sake of clarity, the remark about parenting came from my daughter's therapist, not mine. And it wasn't nearly as inappropriate in context as I apparently made it sound.
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cathshaffer
User: cathshaffer
Date: 2011-09-29 14:05 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Ah, that's what I figured at the time.
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Kari Sperring
User: la_marquise_de_
Date: 2011-09-29 14:54 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It seems to me that right now, you get to do what feels right for you. Anything else would be unreasonable.
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mlerules: labyrinth
User: mlerules
Date: 2011-09-29 15:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:labyrinth
Huzzah for releasing some of that load.
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User: deborahjross
Date: 2011-09-29 16:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I’m just trying to release some of the soul-crushing load... This is important and admirable emotional work.
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Karen
User: klwilliams
Date: 2011-09-29 18:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Your blog has been very helpful for me. I was recently diagnosed with MS, and while it won't kill me, the doctors and literature cheerfully talk about when (not if) I'll be fully disabled, and how my life will be shortened by 5-10 years. Fortunately I'm responding well to the drugs, but I notice the changes and the new limitations. It's horrifying. Your journey, while a different one, actually gives me hope and a lot of encouragement, especially when all I want to do it curl up in a ball and cry. Thank you.
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Jay Lake: flowers-puffy
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-09-29 20:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:flowers-puffy
I am glad I can be of some help. Because that's a hell of a thing to face.
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torreybird
User: torreybird
Date: 2011-09-30 00:26 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Good for you for hitting your head against that wall, if that's the wall that needs to come down, and if your head is the right tool to do it. That particular set of circumstances is rare, and not easy to see from outside the head in question. Thanks for taking the extra time to explain.
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