Living {not dying, not healed from} cancer

"Cancer is often a disease that lasts a long time, and people may be treated for it for many years. Sometimes, people close to the patient who were very involved at first grow distant as the treatment continues over the course of months or years. It is understandable that you can become "burned out" when supporting a person with cancer. Still, people with cancer need emotional support throughout the entire course of their illness. Remember that the encouragement and support of those around them can help people with cancer get a new perspective and even have more hope when they feel beaten down by cancer or its treatment. Also, the support of family and friends helps people with cancer try to get on with their old activities and return to as normal a life as their illness will allow. So if you are going to be a support for a person with cancer, try to hang in there for the long term. Being there and then leaving can be very painful for your loved one, and can feel even worse than not ever being there at all.

It is often hard to know if you are crossing boundaries or treating the person with cancer too much like a "cancer patient" and not like your friend or family member. Encourage the person with cancer to let you know if you cross this line. Every person with cancer appreciates the friend or family member who remembers that they used to be a person without cancer -- that they had, and still have, strengths and weaknesses, interests, and parts of life that have nothing to do with cancer. Sometimes being the person in the "cancer patient's" life who remembers the whole person is a special gift." ~ American Cancer Society, Living With Cancer

Twenty years ago, you either died from cancer or you were healed. Today, that is no longer true. Some people I've rubbed shoulders with in the last year have had an active cancer diagnosis - never going into full remission - for nearly 20 years! There are stories of healing followed by a return of cancer...stories of mothers living for years with a poor diagnosis...stories of moms who can't quite figure out what's wrong in the first place. I have a whole folder under my "Blogs" bookmark tab labeled "Cancer". I did it that way so I don't have to see them every time I open up my bookmarks. To tell the truth, when I hear all those discouraging stories, I shrug them off like so many drops of unwelcome rain. I am a lover of conclusions: either kill me now, or heal me now! I don't want to be living with cancer, I want to be a survivor. And I can't say that I am yet! The unwelcome truth of the matter is that it still lurks. An unknown, an unquantifiable presence under the surface of the deep, occasionally causing a few ripples in my consciousness.

Please stick with me, friends. I need support now - not necessarily the emergency kind of support that shows up on your doorstep with a fully cooked meal and arms ready to scrub my bathrooms. That type of help is for when I'm really sick after a treatment. What I need now is soul care. People who understand that I'm a deep thinker and that there are really disturbing thoughts still rumbling around in my brain looking for a place to hide. I "file" things, mentally. My cancer file is so full right now, there are papers scattered all over the place, bogging up the works. I've got papers marked "Why do we suffer?" with nothing written yet below the title. I haven't figured things out. I still need to process. I need to understand what it means to have a cancer diagnosis...that I am going to live with for a while...that makes me feel old and tired and washed out. What does it mean to be immunosuppressed and susceptible to every little illness that blows by? Will cancer still require that I change my lifestyle, despite clean scans and good bloodwork?

As much as I don't want this to be the new norm, it is. Cancer is my cognitive hopscotch: I'm standing on a tile on one leg, trying to figure out how to make my way to the next tile without tipping over. And that's why I'm still writing. Because this game isn't over yet. I still have to hop for a while.

The pathway is broken
And the signs are unclear
And I don’t know the reason why You brought me here
But just because You love me the way that You do
I’m gonna walk through the valley
If You want me to

I’m not who I was
When I took my first step
And I’m clinging to the promise You’re not through with me yet
so if all of these trials bring me closer to you
Then I will walk through the fire
If You want me to

It may not be the way I would have chosen
When you lead me through a world that’s not my home
But You never said it would be easy
You only said I’d never go alone

So when the whole world turns against me
And I’m all by myself
And I can’t hear You answer my cries for help
I’ll remember the suffering Your love put You through

And I will go through the darkness if You want me to

when I cross over Jordan
Gonna sing, gonna shout,
Gonna look into Your eyes and see You never let me down
So take me on the pathway that leads me home to You
And I will walk though the valley
If You want me to
~ If You Want Me To, Ginny Owens