Cancer, My Jailor

Born with a scream, die with a whimper. Between those bookends, the self somehow develops. Perhaps it’s because we exist at the bottom of an empty well, waiting for the drenching rains of knowledge to float us up and out of the darkness. The more I know, the less I know, yet the more I’m told. How unsatisfactory.

Do you somehow quench a long thirst, find how to know yourself, somehow climb out of that well to find your soul?

Probably not. And not exactly where I’d hoped to wind up at stage 4 of my life. No, not like a pitcher winding up on a baseball mound, but wind up the ends of a life spent pursuing “right” actions. By ingesting information, sharing love, giving as fully as possible, I found no answer to my great questions. And if the unknown creates a thirst, I remain in a state of dehydration. My consciousness lacks something, and I belive I’m not yet done.

When I’m alone with my thoughts, I know there’s not anybody else who exists outside of my mind. Am I fearless in my self-consciousness if this doesn’t scare me? Descartes be damned with your cogito ergo sum, and screw the existential problems of a Danish prince or a French novelist who’ll always be a stranger to me.

On the eve of attending the week-long Cancer Help Program at Commonweal Commonweal Cancer Help Program I sit on a bed surrounded by words, paper, buttons, beads, clothes, books, and thoughts instead of someone else. The embarkation of discovery. What’s bothering me about this cancer thing?

I’ve lost my freedom. My free will in some sense. Thinking about my health, my ability to work, earn, travel, run, freely move about the world as I have for decades, I gave my freedom to a disease that’s beginning to travel around my body again. Now my liver and onto chemotherapy and other fun stiff drinks Stanford has in store when a changed me drives back over the Golden Gate Bridge next Sunday.

Walt Whitman said it far more concisely so I’ll leave him to you and say, “adieu.”

Wisdom is not finally tested in schools;
Wisdom cannot be pass’d from one having it, to another not having it;
Wisdom is of the Soul, is not susceptible of proof, is its own proof,
Applies to all stages and objects and qualities, and is content…
– Walt Whitman

Ilene

Female. East coast transplant living in the Bay Area of California. Living with Stage IV breast cancer. Married to the coolest guy in the universe who occasionally suffers from serious depression. Love my stepsons, although I never thought I'd have that thankless job - ever! And my best friend Simon is also my cat. How I have survived with stage IV: treatments including chemo and surgery; palliative oncology; tenacity; a dark sense of humor; support groups; and my newly reinvented career as a vintage and antiques maven. Some days I miss the old me who led a well respected and well paid life as a business strategist in high tech. So much for that. I blog to simply share my experiences and my poetic approach with others who have cancer of any kind or with their care givers and those who love them. If one person at the very least finds a little commonality or a friend out in the ether tor a smile, a common nod about this experience, or even a link to assistance, then I have accomplished a small but extraordinarily meaningful goal. Go team.

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