Sunday, May 2, 2010

You learn

Something I learned early on my cancer journey is that not everyone dies right away from it. I had thought cancer was an immediate death sentence, so it is a relief to know that it is not. I have lived almost four years with brain cancer.

But I have learned that the threat and the worry doesn't go away. That's what keeps me awake at night: the unknown, the future, the past and today. All remain mysteries for me to solve. Reality is still difficult to face, as difficult as looking in a mirror or taking a step after too many margaritas.

Sadly and selfishly, I have learned to embrace the notion of The End, because I will no longer worry, and I won't be a burden to anyone. If only I could control when The End comes, and tell God, or whoever is listening, that He can take me, but only after my son gets married and gives me grandchildren, only after my husband and I rediscover each other.

Meantime, I'm preparing for a new phase. People will say to me that I don't look sick, because I'm fat, and still have my hair, and I can still tap into what gray matter I have left. But last time I saw my doctor, she suggested that if my scans confirm that my tumor is growing back, it may be time for radiation. I may as well still my head in a microwave.

Okay, not funny. What I'm trying to say is that is when that time comes,I won't be able to fake it anymore. I will look AND act like someone with a damaged brain. Perhaps I should search for a substitute brain. I want to be prepared for the unpredictable.

I will always be thankful for the time I have had between chemo and whatever comes next. It was so nice to be able to go camping, and not feel sick, to get off the couch for longer periods of time. I felt free, almost cured, except for the occasional times when I would babble, or my brain would shut down like a computer. I also gained a new fear of crowds. Maybe fear isn't the right word, discomfort seems like a better one. Crowds get me way overstimulated, and not in a good way. It's hard to avoid them though. I cant stay inside all day, either literally or figuratively. So, I venture out from time to time, and try not to bump into people.

On thing I will never know is what caused my cancer, and why I have lived four years, while some are lucky to live two years. When I was first diagnosed, I asked if there was anything about my lifestyle that could have triggered this. The doctor said "no", but I think the most likely answer is: many things contributed to my cancer, and because I'm not like everyone else, neither is my cancer. It is as unique as I am. Like everyone else, I have no choice but to take what life gives me, and no that life's rules may change at any moment.


Yukon said...

Eden, this is beautiful and poignant.

Anonymous said...

This is very moving Eden. Open,honest,thoughtful and written by someone who is anything but selfish.