Tuesday, November 13, 2012

When Death Has A Face. Your Own.

OK, so the headline may be a bit ghoulish. But it describes the threat we face when we hear the word "cancer".

I have a family member who is in really bad shape, fighting for his life while battling this nasty, ugly and unforgiving disease. (I'm praying for you, Dan). The thoughts running through his head are hard to imagine for those on the other side, watching what cancer is doing to his mind, body and spirit. It's the main reason I started this blog over 4 years ago, to help shed light on the view from the cancer patient.

When I was diagnosed with head & neck cancer, my Wife made me promise that I would talk to her about what I was feeling and thinking. That's an extremely hard promise to keep, for many reasons. The pain and fear that comes over someone when you tell them how bad you really feel––no energy, fighting against giving up because this shit is hard and the feeling of losing control of your bodily functions and your mind––is hard to see and deal with when you're fighting. So I was judicious in what I told her and the family. And I kept telling everyone who would listen, "I'm going to be fine. I'm not ready to go. I'm going to kick cancer right between the balls and take it down." I did this just as much for myself, as for them. Why? Because I needed to hear it out loud, to motivate myself, for the people that love me, care for me. And I felt a tremendous obligation to stay alive.

I have written before there were more than a few occasions I didn't know if I would make it to the next morning light. I would stay up––usually in my bathroom trying not to throw up any more and/or trying to stay off the toilet––until the sun started to do it's thing. It was as if death was "teasing me", trying to get me to join. Strangely, I wasn't afraid––it made me more determined. I didn't want death to win. And I did look like death warmed over. Now for all of you who believe in God and/or life thereafter, this is not a denouncement––it's the human side of life that we only know all too well. And having "seen" death, it's what I felt.

And it was my face I had to face, every day.