This was written when I was still quite sick a number of months ago. I was too low at the time it was written to post it. I’ve decided to post it now. I share it to truth-speak about how painful cancer can be. Sharing what it was for me, as a way of being a voice for those who have not words to share. This rant of sorts is not an attack on any one person, but a broad-brushed painting of the reality of what it is to be sick and dependant on others.
Cancer is not cancer. It’s not breast cancer or thyroid cancer. It’s strokes, heart attack activity that isn’t, doctors treating you like a hypochondriac while functioning slips away. It’s skin that peels, clothes that don’t fit anymore, potassium levels so low that legs throb through the night. It’s not recognizing yourself in the mirror. Foggy mind half the time not remembering what I’ve said, what you’ve said, what we were talking about. It’s family sweet as can be, and condescending sometimes too. It’s having to listen to people “Oh you look like you’re feeling better” while the entire left side of body is numbed out, can’t hear from the left ear, do laundry for five minutes before having chest pain and doctor saying “you’re heart is in great shape”. It’s your little six year old daughter telling you that you get first place for being the meanest one in the family. The mean mom that gets tired of the denigrating remarks when trying to get kids to do their chores, one by one the entire family decides they are going to be sicker than Mom today – until their pals come over and off they race across the yard, Nerf and laser guns a-blazing, and once again, when they return to the house, asked to pick up coat, or feed the dog, the sudden illness takes over and death is at the door.
It’s the doctors passing their job off to another doctor. Oh it’s the endocrinologists job, no the oncologists job, no the primary care, … .on it goes, while the mystery symptoms that take away my ability to take walks, swim, drive, to care for my kids get worse. The computerized diagnosis is last word, with physical problems all hovering in the “rare” category, no one bothering to dig deeper while symptoms hold me in place, so much piling up around me, and I must be still.
Cancer is having all the kind persons who have pitched in to help become judgmental of the way my life looks, judgmental of what happens in this house, condescending of who I am. It’s having to receive help from others who don’t respect me because they are incapable of helping and empathizing at the same time. The most empathetic person is the world can flip a switch when doing another a good turn. It’s watching them lose respect by the day – each and every act of kindness they provide decreases the peer to peer relationship – me having no alternative but to receive it.
Cancer is not a surgery and missing body part. It’s the loss, week by weakening week of clients, and eventually a career. The destruction of a business. The death of a dream. It’s not rosy and romantic. It’s ugly – creepy … the stopper of life. And I’m stuck between. Alive and not at all. Stuck receiving support, care, favors, errands, driving kids to school, with bitterness in the doer, irritation of the helper, and shame at being the taker.
The part of cancer I can do quite well is walk into the hell hole of the chopping block. I can tolerate physical pain. I can usually manage being mangled. I can’t handle the shame I feel receiving assistance – the baring all – the inside scoop on our junk, irritably of the one doing all the favors due to their superiority and my shame.
Cancer could be the most ideal way to go if it weren’t for all that. Known outcomes, time frames, managed symptoms until death. What makes it awful is loss of dignity (relationship) with people I care about most due to my neediness at the end, and their inability to give and maintain respect for the person they are giving to. A few of us can give without shaming – most of the time, a few can receive without feeling the shame, but most can not. We call it being “stewards” of our time and money by nosing into others lives when a need arises. ‘If she hadn’t let herself go, he’d have never looked elsewhere.” “There are consequences to slacking on the job”. “Live and learn”. We have all said things like this – or thought them. It’s obvious it’s wrong to give cash to a meth addict. We take this reasoning further and do harm – judge – while extending a helping hand. I tell you from the receiving end, it helps more to not help but maintain a relationship of respect then to help with judgment.
Most of us have ZERO BUSINESS being involved in another’s crisis, because crisis is a HOLY PLACE. It’s where God hovers. It is SACRED. Anytime we have all the answers, we do harm. Anytime we can’t give without judgment, we harm. Anytime we get inside the disaster of each other’s life and can’t set judgment aside, we hurt each other. I’m getting to feel it, first hand. No one means to harm. They just want the system to work better. Just want routines in place that make things better, but that’s not how it feels to the one is on the receiving end. If I ever get beyond this cancer mess, I vow to God and to others that I will NEVER HELP SOMEONE UNLESS I CAN HAVE A SOLID CHECK ON MY ATTITUDE.
Do I resent helping my kids with things they need help with?
How does that make them feel?
Do I resent making supper.
Giving a gift and resenting the giving DOES HARM.
Do I resent helping a friend, I HAVE ZERO BUSINESS HELPING UNLESS I CAN HELP FROM A PLACE OF EMPATHY.
Cancer is not cancer.
Cancer is everything else – but one thing.
Cancer is not Boss, God is.
God is the only one out there I know what manages disasters and love all at the same time.
If i’m well enough to work again, I’m working for Him.