Thursday, February 7, 2013

Zero-Sum


Cancer sucks.

Having cancer sucks even more.

For me the suckage comes from a persistent frustration.  I don't feel sick.  I'm not in any pain.  I'm not symptomatic.  I'm not going though chemo or radiation therapy.  It would be the Best Of All Possible Worlds if it wasn't so damned frustrating.  This frustration seems to come from a knowledge that this whole cancer .... thing ...... is going nowhere.  It's not growing or spreading.  We are simply watching it, and waiting for it to grow, or spread to the point where something must be done.  In the meantime, life goes on, pretty much as usual, with the difference being that I know there's a cancer in my body and it's not going away.  There's nothing to do except wait for some event, some indeterminate point in the future, when the shit will finally hit the fan and something will get done.

I hate waiting - waiting for that indeterminate date to arrive.

That's where the frustration comes from.

It's not like I look forward to that day.  The thought of having poison pumped into my body, or my guts burned up from the radiation is repugnant.  Repulsive.

I also understand ..... or believe ..... that day is inevitable.   Sooner or later, my oncologist will say the magic words ....

I think we should start you on some chemo.

The frustration will evaporate, to be replaced by fear - or at least that's what I'm afraid of.

Having a port installed, being nauseated and sick to my stomach all the time, hair falling out, chemo brain, it all scares me and it'll get scarier when it actually begins.  That's what I'm afraid of and it's always there in the back of my mind.  It haunts me.  It frustrates me.

That sucks.  Out loud.

Sometimes I feel lucky that despite the cancer, I still have a reasonable level of good health.  Then I feel guilty when I think about the people I know who have been though things far worse with cancer than what I'm going through.  It's back and forth and back and forth in a perverse zero-sum game I play with myself.  One minute I feel pretty good about things, and the next I feel like shit about it.

And that, I guess, is my karma.

I've been painting a rather bleak picture and for that, gentle reader, I aplogize.  My life isn't non-stop misery.  Having cancer, even a low-grade malignancy like mine is frustrating, but I've found ways to cope.  Perhaps one day soon I'll write about it.

Good has come of it.  I feel I've learned a little something about compassion.  I ponder my own situation and then I consider Shelly, and Jody, and Andy, and Rob and Kelly's wife and all the others who have been through worse than I, and I find in myself a heart that is softer, gentler, and more available than it used to be.  If I'm frustrated by my situation, how must they feel about what they are going, or have gone, through?  How can there not be a place in my heart for these friends, and I wonder, did it take cancer for me to find that place?

Is this the upside of a zero-sum game?

And that thought frustrates as well.