I am busy penning thank you notes. I can barely keep pace. These few weeks at home I’ve witnessed a steady stream of concern. It has taken the form of gifts such as books, music, food, services, and games, along with heartfelt comments in cards and letters and postings online.
This outpouring of solicitude humbles me. People, some I hardly know, are taking time out of their day and away from their own worries in an attempt to alleviate my cares. With each surprise I try to understand the motivation behind the benevolence. I believe this kindness says more about the giver than the recipient. To everyone: Thank you.
I continue to mend. Fifty-seven days have passed since the transplant. I still can’t tolerate plain water. Instead, I drink lots of orange and grapefruit juice along with lemonade. I can’t explain the appeal of
citrus drinks. I’ve also become addicted to Grape Nuts, a breakfast cereal I last ate as a fourth grader. I’m on my third box. I read, write, and walk away the hours.
Cautiously, I venture out but avoid socializing. I limit most of my activities to the few square miles of our farming community here in Dee. In the evenings, I watch baseball but overall, I prefer the Internet to television.
On the net, I follow several blogs of other individuals with cancer. To my virtual friends out there, Beth, Karen, Nancy, Cindy, Andre, Teresa, Margaret, Leslie, Don, and Susie, I also say, “Thank you.”
We comprise a remarkable geographic diversity stretching from the Northwest to the East Coast and across the Atlantic to Italy. Our differences notwithstanding, we share a common foe. We all dance around our fears, trying to find comfort with our unpredictable futures. Some employ self-deprecating humor in order to introduce their disease into the conversation. Their cheerful endurance of cancer’s chaos makes me laugh. I admire their humor even though cancer, for me, is more an intriquing mystery than a comedy.
Other writers detail their treatments and share lab results and side effects and symptoms so that readers can relate to the disease through the shared experience. Some crusade for a cure; they devote their pages to the latest clinical trials or published papers on possible remedies. Still others bluntly declare their hatred of cancer, referring to it as “the beast.” They are justifiably angry at the indignities that come with this fight.
Accordingly, the writers who I currently follow hold a special place in my day. I anticipate their unique perspectives. I collect from them clues to the questions posed by a chronic illness. First and foremost among these is how do you keep talking about it without inviting sympathy. Obviously, there are ways to do this and these blogger’s distinctive styles show me how. Cancer interrupted the momentum of our lives. Our musings proclaim we are not victims in this drama but protagonists asserting our value.
Some thrive following treatment, some tiptoe along with a stable but active disease, and others deal aggressively with a relapse. I consider their insights more valuable than those of my oncologist. I learn from their honesty. We acknowledge each other; we worry about one another, yet we keep our one-of-a-kind voices. We share our hopes and frustrations. Round and round we go with tales of living the life, trying to make peace with this intruder.