Metastatic Cancer: Unemployable and Unapologetic 

Metastatic Cancer: Unemployable and Unapologetic 

Working? Not really. Nothing seems to work. Not me. Not my body. Not my marriage. Desperate and jubilant, isolated and surrounded, frightened and soothed, all on the roller coaster hoping the slow climb up will take forever and not send me screaming on a steep downslope to a dead stop. After two years I feel like I am sitting in a bathtub full of ice cubes when I think about having cancer. In a way it’s easier saying it and engaging in discussions about it because conversations naturally end. My mind loses track of time when I think about things. One of the things I think about is Cancer and the role of the disease, which has taken a full time job in my body. I didn’t hire it. But this new employee of the brand of me I used to be changed and not for the better.

 
I feel like I used to be Coca-Cola then some idiots in corporate decided there needed to be a new me, so like New Coke (for those of you reading who are too young to remember it was a MASSIVE failure and still the brunt of many jokes). Like New Coke, I lost the support of my friends and relatives one after the other, yet finding love in the strangest and most unexpected people, and it’s all a mess. 
I hope for the best, demand the care I need and want, I cry sometimes all alone and sometimes I cry at night when I cannot sleep out of frustration. I cry from pain that drugs can’t touch anymore because of my fast metabolism and built up tolerance.
Sleep requirements have changed, too, although my body always fought sleep so I’ve never slept well. I couldn’t wait to get up in the morning and see what would happen – all curiosity and annoyance to my mother’s chagrin when I was a little girl. Now I can’t get to sleep – and I’ve tried everything. Guided imagery. Meditation. I have a nice aroma therapy machine next to the bed. Changing the position of the bed. Bed toppers with space age memory foam invented at NASA. Hot relaxing showers. Everything, but my mind and body aren’t cooperating. Now I’d make the worst employee being in pain and going to constant doctors appointments and being perpetually late. Thus, I had to change careers and become self employed. My husband is to thank for affording me the privilege to do so as I know many people cannot. I am eternally grateful although I’d feel better about it if his depression would let him accept my gratitude. So work doesn’t even mean the same thing it used to…and I cannot fire this new hire named Cancer punching a clock every day in my body.
“I” don’t work in so many ways. 

My body.

My career.

My punctuality.

My relationships.

My sleep.

My pain.

It’s all so broken. But in breaking things down, I grow. I will grow something beautiful from my wreckage. It’s debatable what beautiful new things will arise from my broken life. I don’t even know if I’ll be living with my husband next year. But I know I’ve survived as well as I can, unselfishly and without too many apologies necessary. I wish I could talk to some people who meant so much to me. Explain why I wasn’t myself over the past seven or eight years. Yet no one needs to explain themselves. We hope apologies will come to people from a place of humble strength. Mostly I’ve come to understand apologies connote weakness to most people.
So I give no apologies. 

“What else could I write?

I don’t have the right.

What else should I be?

All apologies.”

– Writer Kurt Cobain – All Apologies by Nirvana

Bertrand Russell, Richard Feynman and Me

Bertrand Russell, Richard Feynman and Me

You’re correct – that’s not a picture of Bertrand Russell who wrote this 10 point view on teaching, it’s my meditation mentor Richard Feynman. In my den framed is the Apple Computer “Think Different” advertising campaign poster with Richard. When I am really in a bind, I look at his photograph and ask, what would you do, Dick? Eventually I figure it out and  if I test my conclusions and they are correct then go for it and keep trying  until a better answer comes to me.  He’s been a great mentor. 

Bert’s words below, however,  apply to teaching as well as more life experiences than I can think of – it, too, applies to how I view my own cancer education. I never wanted to be a cancer patient and I never wanted to be a stepmom, but now I am those things and more. 

So for your edification and for the high regard I place on pedagogical philosophy that’s orders above the ordinary, here you go:

1.  Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.

2.  Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.

3.  Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.

4.  When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.

5.  Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.

6.  Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.

7.  Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.

8.  Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.

9.  Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.

10.  Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.

Thank you Bert and Dick. You’re both very much alive with me every stinking day and I am better for both of your words still available to me when I’m having a crappy day.