Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake

[cancer] What constitutes "winning"

Yesterday in comments, Pelican said:

If you don’t mind a follow-up question to your post - it seems like you’ve identified a new definition of “win” in regards to your cancer? Can you talk a bit more about how you came to that new definition (if so) and how, if at all, that changes your emotional experience?

Well, my doctors and I are still aiming for a full cure, but the odds of that keep falling. My own emotional and personal convictions have shifted entirely to the negative as I've discussed again recently [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ]. I don't expect to live to be old. I'll be surprised to live to be 50 at this point. Medical science hasn't given up on curing me, but in effect, I have.

So "winning" for me has stopped meaning a return to full health. That would be double bonus lottery winning, to return to health. "Winning" for me now is living long enough to do the things that are important to me. What those things are will move and change over time, as I continue to live. When I fall ill, especially whenever it is a terminal event as I believe it will be sooner or later, those things will contract along with my life, until my last ambition and final victory will be a graceful farewell.

I came to this definition as a result of my loss of optimism, my loss of my sense of the future. I'm not depressed by this realization. It's just a fact of my existence. I'd be delighted to be proven wrong, but I don't expect it. So, acknowledging my own sense of reality, I redefined winning.

Does it change my emotional experience? As I said, I don't think my existing cancer-related depression has been exacerbated by my attitude. I think it does render me more melancholy than I might otherwise be, but that seems natural. As my therapist has said, I walk every day with death on my shoulder. Looking at death, I try to make my goals and ambitions achievable even within his shadow. It's the ultimate form of living within the moment.

That's my new definition of winning.

Tags: cancer, child, health, personal

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