I just saw the Nanowrimo "winner" badge on my friend Nicole's LJ blog. I signed on but gave up after 3 days. I realized I neither had the constitution nor the mind set to write 50K words of fiction by Nov. 30. Not this time anyway. Inventing fictional characters seems to throw me into denial. Yet everything winds up being autobiographical in the end, which is boring to me. My life is too real to me right now. I could definitely use an escape. But every time I started the novel, I'd get sad. The fiction makes me think of cool things I'd like to do that I may not get to because of my condition. That really sucks.
Lately I've felt angry at this "first stage palliative" treatment I'm receiving. I think the only reason I'm in this clinical trial is I feel like I have to be constantly fighting my disease, doing something about it. "Palliative" means they want to relieve symptoms without effecting a cure. Basically, the medical community has written me off. I feel that everyone should be given a chance at a cure, especially cases like myself—I'm younger and healthier than many people with this disease at this stage. Might I not stand a chance of surviving and going into remission?
I don't want to be angry and suppress my immune system. That won't get me anywhere. A few months ago, while on chemo, I felt like I was being given a chance. I felt as though I was monitored and since I was doing well, they (the medical team) might be more hopeful for me. My doctor is fairly neutral—he always says no one can foresee the future, but the clinical trial nurse is never optimistic about my outlook. In her mind, I'm terminal, and she always uses language like "while you can" and seems skeptical if I'm doing well. It's frustrating and infuriating and I have to consciously keep her comments from undermining my resolve. Unfortunately, I have to consult with her regularly.
Lately I've been achy and feeling strange pains—like the kind you get when you move heavy furniture or go rockclimbing after a long absence. Except it doesn't feel like muscle pain. These are the sorts of things that strike fear in the hearts of cancer patients and survivors. A friend of mine who's a breast cancer survivor tells me she wakes up sweating in the middle of the night, terrified of a recurrence. My pains aren't imaginary, although I'd like to close my eyes and will them away. I can't afford to have them—this is a busy month, full of travel and company. But then, this is how I used to react to pain—it was an inconvenience—and look where it got me.
Inspite of getting cancer and having a miscarriage at the beginning of the year, inspite of no longer being able to scuba dive and having about 1/30th of the energy and strength I once had, inspite of the thousand and one slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that 2006 represents, I still have much to be thankful for. I am thankful for friends old and new, and their outpouring of prayers, flowers, gifts, and thoughts. I am thankful for new sight—beauty, new ideas, new thoughts, new experiences…all things seem new to me now, for my vision has changed. I see with newness the smallest things I will never tire of, like the sweet twinkle in my husband's eyes and the silent meow my cat makes when I wake up beside him in the morning. Buddhists call this "attachment" and this is what causes suffering. I hope I can let go before I die, and go peacefully. But for now, I am soaking in my attachments. I love the Christmas that is sparkling decorations and lights, and the spiritual message of the season. I love the food, the carols, the traditions, the corny sweaters. I feel extra sad for those less fortunate, those unable to celebrate with all the aforementioned. This just serves to magnify why I should be thankful, even though I'm sick. But I would rather be poor and healthy than sick and bourgeois any day.
All I want for Christmas is to get well and to keep feeling the love all around me. And a few really good laughs, because that feels better than just about everything else right now, and they don't have to cost a thing.