So, here we are 18 days into Pinktober, and I have not yet vented my spleen. This is causing a backup in psyche-bile, and I have a lot to say. However, (and this is the excuse I am giving for my blogging absence), the severe, advanced spinal stenosis that has caused me to be on medical disability this semester, prevents me from typing more than 15 minutes at a time. At least that’s what I thought it was when I sat down to type this blog. I got to the word ‘Pinktober,’ and the searing-hot numbness began, creeping slowly from my cervical-cranial junction inching up toward the top of my head like a family of fire-ants looking for a picnic spot. I have to stop every five words or so. I look to the right, left, up, down, anywhere but directly at my monitor. To look at the monitor is to have the cranial fire ants begin their breakfast. Not pleasant at the least, but I’m happy I took typing class now. I can touch type and amaze my seven-year-old by typing and not looking at the screen:). However, this is no way to live. November 13, I am going to have a four-or-five level laminoplasty to open up my spinal canal and take the compression off the four places my vertebrae have disintegrated and are sort of leaning on my spinal cord. Not enough to paralyze me, thank G-d. Yet. It is the yet that scares me–so far I just drop things and trip every once in a while, can can’t type at a screen. If it progresses, I could be paralyzed, and that just doesn’t sound fun. Frankly, it sounds frightening.
But, what scares me more is Pinktober (heh, nice segue). All month, I have been reminded that I need to ‘fight’ breast cancer. Now, having given my girls for the battle, I have something to say about the fight–about fighting cancer, about fighting for the cause, about fighting like a girl, about, even (don’t say it!) fighting for one’s life. I don’t like it. I don’t like it one bit. Why? Quite frankly, fighting sucks. Period.
Think about the last fight you had with someone you cared for deeply. It could have been this morning. Maybe it was with your husband, partner, child, maybe even your pet. I can guarantee you this: the fight was probably stupid. Most fights with loved ones are over some petty, trivial stuff that doesn’t really matter. Everyone gets upset, maybe yelling ensues, both parties blow-off steam, then all is right with the world. The same is not true for the people Cancerific. Yes, everyone does get upset, and perhaps there is yelling. However, the cancer doesn’t go away after the steam is blown off. One cannot fight cancer the same way one fights with loved ones. When ones’ life is on the line, trivializing the all-encompassing energy that goes into removing the pathogen from our physical and psychic being into just a ‘fight’ is demeaning and demoralizing.
Cancer treatment is much more than just a fight. Making it a fight means that if we lose the fight, we didn’t try hard enough. Too often I’ve heard people say about my Cancerific sisters who were lost on the battlefield tattered and torn, “well, she fought hard,” as if we should find solace in that she did not go softly into that good night. Why? Sisters (and brothers, not dissing the bros), this is not a fight! True warriors don’t leave their comrades on battlefield tattered and torn and just shake their heads, walking away secretly happy it wasn’t them. They retrieve their fallen comrades from the field at their own peril. They find ways to prevent another fight in their fallen comrade’s memory. They battle royale. They make sure no one in their unit is harmed again. Ever.
But sometimes, The Guys In The White Van don’t let warriors return to the battlefield–and sometimes, no matter how hard we fight, we don’t make it. Period. I’ve heard so many sisters talk about their fallen siblings and friends…”she fought hard, but she didn’t get her mammograms regularly”…”Oh, she was a fighter, but the medication just couldn’t keep up with the cancer…” “She lost her fight with breast cancer…” I know some of you out there are grieving now, and when I see the words I just typed, I think of my own loved-ones lost. The loss saddens me in a profound way–because in a way, their deaths are my own. It saddens me deeply that I could not go back to the battlefield to gather my fallen loved-ones. Our diseases were the same–our fights, why so different? Did my loved-one fight the wrong way? What helps me move through my day is the sincere belief that those brave souls passed did not die fighting, they died living.
No longer will I say I am (or anyone is) fighting cancer. Instead, I will say I am living around cancer. Unfortunately, some of us pick up keys to our Cancerific time share more often than others, but please, no fighting. Fighting is anxiety producing–I don’t need any more anxiety in my life, nor do you. Fighting releases cortisol and other hormones bad especially for the people Cancerific. Fighting (at least a well-executed fight) sometimes involves planning and strategizing, and quite frankly, I don’t have time to execute that level of detail and energy for something that doesn’t deserve the knotting of my stomach and venting of my spleen. Simply put, I don’t have time for this sh!t. Other types, perhaps, but right now, I no longer fight cancer, nor do I provide aid or purchase in the fight against cancer. It takes two to fight. The Guys in the White Van might be tracking me, but what I’ve learned in my son’s Karate class is that if I am not a victim, an attacker will not strike. No fighting. No stress. No cancer. No Pinktober.