The on-going, first-hand tale of a journey through medical oncology... and what happens after.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The people around us

Two nights in a row. I've slept (mostly) through two nights in a row now. And the heat wave outside continues to crash down upon us. But lorazepam is my friend, and the ceiling fan is my friend, and I feel almost rested again. Sleep will do that for you, you know. I still recall the sleep deprivation known as "having a newborn," and am humbled by that memory.

Then, as now, the support of friends, family, and sometimes strangers, made it possible to see and live the joy of a growing child. Without even thinking, we shared our joy through tired smiling faces, and stories of other children and other sleepless nights and other parents' journeys.

Cancer-world is a hard place, especially so for the "close-support" people in my life. While seemingly "natural" to expect the patient/survivor to need extra space, and extra support, and even extra silences, our closest supporters are often treated differently. To them, the casual question, "how are you?" becomes a time bomb, laden with expectation. As with the patient myself, this simple question asks the receiver to assess the questioner's real intent, to assess their own energy for talking about "the topic", to assess their personal maelstrom of feelings - and then deliver an answer. Is it glib? Is it profound? Is it tired? And how does the questioner feel about this answer? Do they feel put off? It's a minefield not unlike the one trod by the patient, by me, when this question arises...

I love my little corner of the world, and all the wonderful people and personalities that share it. I have never felt so strangely connected to everything as I do these days. This is an amazingly poignant result of a surprisingly unexpected cancer diagnosis. But I worry a bit about how hard this journey is for my support team. Sometimes, we all just need to forget the reality of cancer, and forget that we are dealing with a "real nasty," and just live.

"No, really, I'm fine. I'm not hiding anything from you. I just need to feel like this thing doesn't completely dominate the me, the us. If I need to talk about it all the time, I lose sight of anything else. Please, just let's talk about how hot it is, or the latest unbelievable news report from DC, or how pretty the summer is turning out to be this year. Yes, I am really OK. I'm not hiding anything from you. Really. How about that HR by Ichiro?!? Inside the park and everything. Man, oh man can that boy run!"


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