Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake

[cancer|writing] And inexorably, ever more is stolen from me

I spent much of yesterday being angry and depressed. A whole host of frustrations are simply my daily lot here in cancerland, but this week’s been a bit extra cruel.

A couple of days ago, I posted about hitting the wall [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ]. That’s a transition point I’ve been expecting for a while, and in fact I got some extra time that I didn’t expect, to be productive on Little Dog and some other, smaller projects.

Still, hitting the wall means Sunspin is definitely sidelined until early 2012. This in turn has implications for when I can go to market, when the book might be contracted, whether I’ll have a trade book out in 2013 (2012 will see Kalimpura in print), whether I’ll have the money for an active con schedule in 2012 (probably not). In other words, I will stumble over a whole basket of career and financial consequences for not being able to get the book trimmed up and out the door this fall as originally planned. That’s been in the wind for a while, so it’s not exactly a shock, but I’m definitely disappointed, frustrated and daunted.

Then yesterday Viable Paradise and I came to a regretful parting of the ways. The workshop needs to confirm instructor availability about ten months in advance, for planning purposes. There’s at least even odds I’ll be in treatment again next year. Given my four month scan-and-hold cycle, even if I end this chemo cycle clear, I can’t firmly commit anything to anyone more than four months out. So having missed being an instructor this year due to this metastasis, I’m now out for the indefinite future. Even if I stay clean for the time being, it will be five years before I can commit to long range plans without the ever-present caveat about me possibly going back into treatment.

I am bitterly disappointed about this. Not at the VP folks, they need to run the workshop with some stability, and I’m completely on board with their reasoning. But I am disappointed with myself. Just as cancer has stolen so much from me emotionally and socially, just as cancer has stolen almost half my writing time these past two years, just as cancer has stolen my Sunspin deadlines, now cancer has stolen an instructing gig I was very excited about and highly committed to. Maybe in five years I can try again if I’m still alive, but I wanted to do it now, at this time in my life, at this point in my career.

I’ve realized that my most basic problem is that I still think of myself as a healthy person. My self-image is that of someone whose life permits him to make long-range plans and keep commitments. That hasn’t been true for over three and a half years now, but I have not internalized myself as the sick man that I very demonstrably am. That the world keeps forcefully reminding me I am by stripping me of opportunities.

In it’s way, that’s an odd form of privilege. The fact that I can even hold the illusion of being normal and healthy is a function of the way cancer works. If I had any number of other major diseases, I wouldn’t have the hope of respite to keep touching back on.

On top of that (or perhaps underneath), I’ve really lost my optimism this year. I made it through the first two cancers convinced everything was going to turn out fine. I don’t believe that any more. Not down in my bones. These days I’m pretty sure I’m going to die of this in the next few years. The things I aspire to, the things I’ve worked hard for, the things I’ve wanted to do — they’re being taken away, piece by piece.

Cancer is a fucking thief. It starts and ends with stealing the heart out of me. Along the way it steals my love life, my writing career, my daughter’s childhood and everything else it can get its bloody hands on.

Take care of yourselves. Do the preventative things you can do for your lifestyle, your genetic history, your age cohort. Trust me, you never want to go down this road.

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

Tags: books, cancer, child, health, sunspin, writing

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