Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Emperor

I’m coming down with the bug travelling through my house so I’m tired on top of tired. I’m getting eyebrows and my hair comes in more everyday, it’s fascinating to watch, you can practically, really, see hair grow. My radiation rash also gets worse every day which is not fascinating to watch.

Every day when I get to the women’s changing room at radiation, there’s a woman already in a stall whimpering, possibly weeping, every day. I finally came face to face with her today, a large russian lady who was difficult to understand, but something about her shoulder, three advils and vicodins and she went into a stall still muttering. I might have walked out while she was talking to me, I knew they’d be coming for me and I just didn’t know what to say, so I just walked out.

The feisty, spunky woman I met at rads has learned that her husband is pretty much at the end of his treatment options for multiple myeloma. This strong, energetic man, husband, brother, son, the father of two young children hasn’t made progress at rehab which means he gets booted home with a hospital bed, wheelchair and commode. They told her that it might take a long time for him to die because when you’re young and healthy with a strong heart, dying might be premature, but it’s slow. He’s in unbearable pain, on every drug in the book and in agony. Their situation is too much to even contemplate, heartbreaking, sickening, awful, these words don’t suffice.

I have to get out of cancer world. Everyone knows a person or two with cancer and most live in fear of getting the diagnosis but that only consumes a small amount of total time. When you’re dwelling in cancertown, everyone has cancer and it skews your outlook. Cancer becomes normal and it shouldn't. I hope I get a good long furlough, I want a change of scenery.

I found this review on Amazon for the mosty aptly and beautifully named book The Emperor of All Maladies:

You remember the scene in the film "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"? From the top of the bluff looking into the distance at dusk, Butch sees the lights of the pursuing posse which doesn't stop tracking them even at night and says "How many are following us? They're beginning to get on my nerves. Who are those guys?" In the same threatening way cancers have been dogging human beings since the dawn of time, and although we now know quite a lot about cancer we still don't really know "who are those guys" or how to shake them. And they sure are "beginning to get on our nerves" as Butch said. Almost one out of four of us will eventually wrestle with cancer -- the defining illness of our generation -- and lose our lives in the process. Until it catches up with us most of us will try to ignore this fact, just as when we were very young children alone in our bedroom trying to go to sleep at night we tried to ignore the monster that we sometimes feared might be lurking in our bedroom closet.

Yeah, cancer is getting on my nerves, I want a break, a little breathing room.

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