Sittin On A Porch

Sittin On A Porch
Our little back porch

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Emotional disease

I have had many friends who are cancer survivors that have said that cancer is an emotional disease.  Based on my experiences over this past month, I am afraid that I can not disagree with that hypothesis.  This has been some of the most emotional and difficult several months I have ever had.  So much loss, so much crying, so much emotional baggage to wade through and deal with.  

Then yesterday Mary and I went to see our most wonderful Dr. M.  I was worried Dr. M would bring up the fact that I have lost 2 more pounds this month.  But he looked exhausted and instead of getting upset with me, he admitted that he was exhausted and had lost 6 months in the past month.  He gently suggested that I need to rest more, and put back on some weight.

He then talked about having attended a conference in Miami this past weekend with other Oncology centers.  He said some of these centers have thousands of patients and yet none of the centers have more then 2 patients with the same mutation of lung cancer that I have.  And none of them also have Hepatitis C.  So that makes my case unique.  Special.  Yes, I am special.  My situation is special.  And Dr. M is special because he is my doctor, I his patient.  And hopefully they will learn about cancer and Hepatitis C, and maybe with what they learn that will help someone else.  

The doctor did not have good news.  But he is so hopeful, so positive, it does not really matter what he has to say.  He makes me feel like he is there and his knowledge, his skills, his will, his belief in medicine will give me the best chance I have for the longest and fullest life I can have.

So the news, my liver enzymes are still too high.  They have not come down at all this past month.  But they have not gone up either.  And my immune system, bone marrow that makes my white blood cells has not come up.  But it has not gone down either.  And one of the cancer markers is up.  That is not good.  But that is not so bad.  Really.  It is not time to give up on the Tarceva.  We are going to give it a little longer before we give up.  I may not be able to tolerate it.  And that will not leave us with much of a choice.  My numbers are still not in the range for standard chemo.  So this Tarceva has to work.  There is the option of going off any chemo to let my body recover.  But that is a scary option when my cancer marker has increased.  

Well, hmmmm.  I have already lived longer then the first doctor predicted.  And I am still here.  I am feeling better, physically.  And this was a good wake up call.  I must rest more.  I must eat more.  I must focus on healing.  I must be patient about my life.  I do not have to do everything all the time.  I need to be kinder to myself.  I must get back to learning how to be a human being.  

And all of this emotional turmoil must be dealt with one way or another and move on.  I think that the emotional upheaval is as guilty about my numbers not being better as my doing too much, not sleeping and resting enough, not eating.

And I have more reasons to pull it together and deal with all these emotions.  Like I need more then, well, saving my life.  Sounds a little dramatic, but not wrong, so let's start right now being less emotional.  I need to do this so that I can enjoy the people in my life.  I have come so close to loosing something that I don't even have yet.  

It is time to stand up and face the fact that a marriage of 22 years had good and bad.  But honestly the end was mostly bad, bad, bad.  And now it is over.  Time to stand up and say, yes, I did love him.  I still do love him on some levels.  But that love has not been that of a wife or a lover for a very very very long time.  Did I find that love again before he died?  Yes.  And we did have an ending.  We did forgive each other.  We did say goodbye.  And he is gone.  And my heart?  A little lighter.  And me?  I am still alive.  He is not forgotten, but all if forgiven and released to the universe.  And now on to my life.

I will still have to get through the memorial service and deal with whatever emotions still needs to be dealt with.  But I can.  I want to.  I am ready.  That does not mean that our marriage was not a part of me.  It was, for 25 years, and it a part of me that makes me who I am.  But I am ready to put it in perspective, stand up straight and tall and say, "no".  No more.  It is past time to stand up for myself.  To stop being the caretaker of a relationship that was not what I thought it was or wanted.  It was not the relationship he obviously wanted, or was able to be present in.  His addictions took him from me.  The cancer, was terrible.  But honestly, he is no longer alone, no longer addicted to things that took him away from me, his friends, his home, his life.  

I have had one date since our divorce.  It was a terrible disaster, and that was that.

I have had one relationship since my divorce.  I told him the first time we met for lunch that I was not ready.  He is a good man.  And we did try to have a relationship, and in the beginning it did fill a need we both had.  But I was not ready.  I spent the entire relationship saying, I am not ready.  I am not ready.  And finally we agreed that I was not ready.  And he moved on, and we are still friends.  He is a good man.  But I was not ready, and now when I am, I realize that you can not make your heart feel something it doesn't.  Thank you Bonnie Rait.  That is so true.  It doesn't matter how much you like someone, maybe even try to convince yourself that you love them, for me if it isn't right, there is nothing I can do.

I wasn't ready to try or to give fully of myself.  Can I now?  I don't know.  But I do know that someone I have met has touched me in such a way that I am ready to do the hard work I have refused to even consider.  And I have gone through so much thought and realization.  And thank you Mr. C, you are right, if one or the other or both reject the relationship, accept the gift of rejection.  Walk away and close the door.  Because life will open another door, or at least a window.

And this person I do not yet know, he did not reject me.  He was hurt.  He has had to question his feelings and trusting me with those.  I didn't realize that he had those feelings.  I have been so busy pushing my feelings on him.  That I never looked or listened or realized that he was starting to have feelings and to trust , me.  I didn't know.  And I am not opening that closest and laughing as the boxes so carefully wrapped and hidden away come pouring down on me for him.  But maybe because of him, in some ways.  He has dealt with at least as much as I have in a relationship.  It did not end in cancer, but it ended even uglier.  So he understands what it means to have someone you thought you knew who and what they are, not be that at all.  I don't know his whole story.  Just a tiny piece.  And I don't know if we will still be friends or maybe more.  But I do know that I want to be ready.  And to do that, I have to come out of my self centered mourning.  My wallowing in grief to keep me from being hurt again.  To keep me from having to face what had happened and make sense of it and deal with it, and then let it go.  Let it go.  

My Ex and I had a wonderful life together.  But that has been so many years ago now.  It has not been within the last 5 years.  So take my head out of the sand, and stand up and be a woman.  Not a whiny spoiled child.  Oh boo hoo, life didn't turn out the way I planned.  The way I worked so hard for it to come out. 

Was it the worse thing to ever happen to me?  Oh heavens no.  And there were good years, many good years, many years ago.  But take off those rose colored glasses and grow up and have a real relationship.  A full relationship.  Empty that bucket of sand, and give the person you want in your life the respect to learn to love them for them.  

Now, in my defense, my Ex did change.  Not that the signs were not there that he could very well have chosen the life he did.  But that was his choice.  And get over it already.  

Did I do all of this for the person I want in my life?  No, but because of him, I have realized that I wanted to do this for myself so that if he is willing to give us the chance I will be ready.  I will not look at him and say, I am not ready.  Instead I will smile and say, I want to try.  I will be honest.  I have been honest with the people in my life.  I am very straight forward in that way.  But I did lie.  I lied to myself, and put the emotions that I had to lie about, away, so that I was not lying.  I was just not facing the truth.  And that bothers me that I could pretend to myself that I was not lying.  

Has the shine been smudged on this new relationship waiting to happen?  Yes, it has.  Does that mean I should do what I have always done before?  Close up, hide and say, I am not ready.  No.  It means, that I am ready to learn and work and do what I have to, to grow.  And if we both decide to keep trying to see what will, what could, what we might have together, then count me in.  And if we don't make it?  Well, I am already stronger.  Yesterday I realized how my wallowing hurt not only me, but anyone who might even possibly want to get to know me.  And I realized once again, how very selfish I can be.  And then I spent the afternoon with Ms Moon, and the doctor gave us the news.  Not good news, but reality.  And do I have the ability to make it better.  Well, I am sure going to try.  And knowing that even if I choose not to fight this disease, but instead accept it.  That does not mean that I have to lay down and die.  No, I can eat better, rest more, make sleeping a priority.  Stop saying "Yes" to everything.  

Start maybe trusting in my own self worth.  Trust that someone that has captured my heart, given me the ability to stand up and stop wallowing and take the first step into a new life.  And I have taken that step.  Will I fall down?  I might.  Will I make mistakes?  Oh yeah.  But to start trusting again and to think about myself.  Not the destructive self centered thinking about myself.  No, thinking of yourself and being proud of what you have accomplished.  That is how I should think of myself.  Realizing how each of my friends and family have placed a piece of their hearts in my safe keeping.  And I want them to feel safe, and to know that this trust is not misplaced.  And how can I have held so tight to past feelings?  Oh, I am sure that there will still be emotions to deal with, but from my new perspective it is not more then I can handle.  I am not fooling anyone by taking emotions and wrapping them in pretty boxes and tying them up with a silk ribbon and then shoving them into a closest.  

Have I dealt with all of those emotions.  Oh no.  But many of those boxes disappeared when I quit holding so tight to them.  They flew off no longer needed, no longer even remembered what they were or why I had put them into that closest.  No, I think I do know why I put them there.  It is hard to hold onto your emotions and deal with them when your hands are full carrying around the bucket of sand to hide your head in. 

I still have so much more to do.  And I will try and use my lessons learned over the past months.  I have nothing to gain by hiding in that closest any longer.  To say, I am not ready.  I have an opportunity to be patient and maybe, just maybe I will have a chance with this someone to test the wings of my heart.  To watch him fly on his wings.  Because we found something together.  And if it doesn't work out?  I have a wonderful friend who is kind and giving that I did not have before.  And I have finally given myself permission to let go.  To trust that I can be more, have more, maybe even love again.  Fully, not holding back out of fear.  Not chasing off to prevent looking at my own heart.  A full strong heart.  A heart that has been through so much, but is a little lighter and a little more ready to try.  

Isn't that like all the hard tasks we have to do.  We dread them and put them off and they grow.  And build.  And become overwhelming.  Such little things now huge dragons eating at us.  Overwhelming us.  Feeling so huge, so insurmountable.  But when you finally sit down and pull on those big girl panties and really face and deal with things.  It is hard, but not so hard.  And it is worth it.  Well so far, anyway.

And it will help me to grow stronger, healthier, and to deal this cancer.  Not to let things get so big that they overwhelm and then affect me.  Make the cancer worse.  Because, my friends just might be right.  This might very well be an emotional disease.  When my attitude was positive I was getting better.  When I wallowed in grief and self pity, I got worse.  Not very scientific.  But this is my life here.  It won't hurt to try again.  To be positive and happy, be my normal Pollyanna self, and heal, to take this little "c" and put it back in its place.  


  1. You are a teacher. I learn so much from you. Thank you.

  2. my sister once made the same argument that cancer was an emotional disease (she nor myself have ever had cancer), but she was looking at cancer being the result of a lack of emotional strength. That if one thought enough happy thoughts, it would push away the cancer, snuff it out. i believe that is total BS. but i respect her right to opinions.
    do i believe that cancer has many many emotional implications? yes. cancer most certainly does effect your emotions and causes havoc on your emotional warfare. but do i believe that cancer can be fought with emotional intelligence? uuuhhh...not so much.

  3. I hope that you have a chance at the happiness that you write about here. I hope that there will be an opportunity to live and love in a relationship. I understand your grief. Sometimes we grieve a person and the loss of what was long before they are dead.