Monday, July 13, 2009
I have a secret. I hardly think this secret will be kept hush-hush. I hardly think that the world wide web is the best place to keep a secret. . A secret should really be kept in a jewelry box, safe, or under a gaurded pillow. . In general, a public forum is not where people keep their secrets, but I am going to. . Here it is: my neck hurts. . This was hardly the atomic bomb statement you all were predicting. There are probably some of you out there who are breathing a big sigh of relief thinking , "what's all this drama about a strained muscle?". . Well, that is exactly the point. . When I say my neck hurts, people assume its the minor sympathy seeking complaints of any average joe making any boring conversation. . It's not. . It is a statement similar to, "my palms really itch" or "my chest has been feeling really heavy." . These are all such seemingly benign statements that are so easily overlooked as just everyday meaningless chatter. . I wonder how many times a day someone tries to say something important to me, to confess something, to seek advice, in the form of nonchalant benign sentences and I don't understand the message. . The message is all in the context. With most other people itching palms, neck aching, chest fullness, acid reflux, lower back pain and cramping would just be everyday complaints. . Co-workers would roll their eyes or mutter some sort possible cure, maybe hand over the motrin. . With me when I say these sentences, they're often loaded, signifying clear symptoms of a disease I pray I no longer have, but can not deny what my body feels. So I say these complaints in passing, hoping someone will catch on and comfort me in the way I need, even though I don't even know what that comforting is. I am sad but accepting. I would cry but I can't find the tears. I keep my eyes focused on short term attainable goals and daily enjoyments. I never look too far in the future. I have done this too many times only to feel a deep empty aching hurt in the pit of my stomach and the wandering thought that hasn't left me since my diagnosis, "will I even be alive for that?". . If I just mention my vague complaints, the hallmark of the insidiousness of cancer, to my loved ones, friends, and family I am giving them the option of ignoring the underlying implications, and have them enjoy their own denial, that I am healthy, I am functioning, and that I will go on living indefinately with the same risk of car crash or crazy adventurer accident as any other twenty-six year old. . Most people take this option. Very few want to delve into a pessimistic reality of a subject that is infrequently discussed. There is a level of discomfort with discussing cancer, especially advanced cancers, among all ages, all races, and all socio-economic groups. It's just a subject that is not normally brouched, even among loved ones and family, even if the pessimistic reality is me trying to be realistic. Just as with all possible forth coming traumatic situations, I want to mentally prepare myself. I want to run through the scenarios. I don't care how pessimistic people may call me. I don't care how many people say I have to have hope and that fighting cancer is mind over matter. Those people haven't had cancer. They haven't fought my battle, and they certainly don't realize what a patronizing cop out this is to an important conversation. . Not many loved ones and caregivers have the strength to carry on these conversations, even if the patient needs it. . This lends to the emotional isolation of the sick, not solely a difficulty understanding, but a protective mechanism of human nature not to want to know how people feel as they know they are failing, what their thoughts are and how they cope. . Many would be surprised, however, that the emotional isolation, sadness, depression, anger and even acceptance eventually fades and gives way to a place of peaceful transcendence that guides you with faith through your life that everything will be okay, no matter what the outcome. If only people could get past this barrier of fear, the fear would dissipate and we'd realize it's all okay.