By Teresa Dominic, cancer survivor and guest blogger
I realized when I woke up that most of the pain that’s been chasing me the past few weeks has diminished. Sometimes, with new persistent pains, I don't know if this is going to be “the new normal.” I don’t realize how much energy goes into bracing myself until I get a reprieve from the pain. Energy is freed up.
I don’t like to write about pain and discomfort and downturns because I feel like it’s bad manners somehow. And I don’t want people far away to worry. And I don’t want to deliver the un-American arc of a story that might just get harder, and then fizzle out – instead of some brave heroic overcoming. Yet, I need to give voice to these things, too. It doesn’t mean it’s an emergency or anyone is letting anyone down, or there should be a change of plans.
"We just don't know."
Right now the plans are still nebulous. I’m no longer taking the hormone as it stopped working. The change has made me feel a little weepy/wacky at times. Showing my tears more. Feeling a bit more moody and fragile.
I am waiting to hear about clinical trials I might qualify for. My doctors stress that whatever I choose at this point should have my comfort at the top of the list. (A way of saying, that, barring a miracle, my participation in treatment or a study will probably not bring me a cure, or even lots more time.) It’s daunting when the doctor says, “Months, even with treatment.” Even though the months is followed by: “3? 9? 14? We just don’t know.”
I can’t control any of it. My experience or yours. The course of this illness or even the possibility of a miracle. It doesn’t feel moral to me in any way, the ending of this story. No better or worse a story whether I’m hanging in there persistently for years or leave sooner. No better or worse a person. Either me or the people who support me. Though I will be mad if I miss your 50th birthday.
And, now that I know what facing my mortality is like, I feel like a jerk for leaving the most important people in my life to face their own deaths some day in the future without me there, to hold their hand and be some kind of comfort. (Although I’m probably going to try to be there, for all of this, in some not-scary-Scooby-Doo-ghost kind of way.)
Something I need to say
Here is something I need to say. Because lately some brave people have let me know of their inclination to distance themselves from me, as my options narrow. Because they have been traumatized by being present with others’ tragedies or deaths. And I have totally had times like that in my own life. Where it couldn’t be my turn to walk by someone’s side. These things were shared in authenticity and love, and actually make me feel closer.
So here is something I need to say. That no matter what the people in my life have done or choose to do from this point on, in terms of distance, closeness, listening, or tuning out, or investing in worry for me or choosing to think about the many other important things in their lives. No one, at this point, can let me down. Or has permission, from me, to feel like they haven’t done enough to comfort or support me.
Because I have already been the recipient of an incredible love. It includes individual actions, but seems knit together by our higher source. So I feel held in some kind of hands, all the time. Even in the weepy/wacky, don’t feel good, overwhelmed by it all, wondering when death is coming moments.
I notice I have also made distances, closed some doors to possibility and amazing people. My inclination lately is to make the circle of my life small. To be more honest with myself about limits.
This all sounds quite serious and it is, and coexists with this playful girl who has time to observe nature, and nap cozily, and write words and explore ideas. Especially on a low pain day.
Also by Teresa Dominic: Healing (even when there is no cure)