Reflections twelve months into treatment:
This month, September 2015, marks one full year since I embarked upon the daunting campaign against the re-emergence of cancer. And, what a year it’s been.
In order to understand the specifics of this recurrence, I had to get re-educated, specifically about the magnitude of what I’m dealing with. And I’ve learned so much.
Most helpful was watching all six hours of the film documentary produced by Ken Burns called ‘The Emperor of All Maladies; A Biography of Cancer‘, based on the Pulitzer Prize winning book of the same title authored by Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee.
I’ve learned about the history of cancer. Cancer has been around for CENTURIES, long before humans created the toxins of industrialized advancement, and long before humans began to chemically modify food sources grown from the ground of this earth.
I’ve learned about the science of cancer. Cancer doesn’t just lurk within. Cancer is the result of healthy cells going rogue. Normal cells morphing inexplicably into killers.
I’ve learned about the incredibly vast scope of cancer. With each new ‘breakthrough’ in cancer research, it only opens the doors to another Pandora’s box with a whole plethora of complexities never seen before.
And, I’ve learned about the horrific unpredictability of cancer. Back in 2004, statistics showed that the odds of my early stage, slow growing cancer coming back was just 3%.
I’ve learned that some things in life aren’t explainable, because the science of these things has yet to be puzzled out.
I’ve learned that a future of questionable longevity, if allowed to saturate your every thought, only brings a life of vibrancy to a screeching halt long before it’s truly time.
I’ve learned that the compassion of faceless strangers, in a cyberspace network of support specifically formed for those who share my same diagnosis, can move me to tears just by reading their own stories; stories of fear, of strength, of perseverance and of acceptance.
I’ve learned that the power of knowledge can bring a sense of control, even when control in the context of science is nothing more than a wishful yearning.
And I’ve recently been reminded that nothing, NOTHING can be taken for granted. Those whom we love can be taken from us unexpectedly, at any moment, in the blink of an eye.
I try not to waste a single moment dwelling on the road ahead. No one knows what is coming. No one.
And while I thank God that I am navigating this world with the support of family and friends whose love envelops me, I am feeling sadness that there are so many others, whose friendships I’ve cherished over many years, that suffer from the unpredictability of science, and whose struggles are far more daunting than my own.
I imagine most people, when diagnosed with cancer, feel the same overwhelming challenge I did back in 2004 and again just one year ago: the challenge of staying anchored in the ‘here and now’.
It’s a learned skill, and cancer taught me that too.