Moving Forward But Not On – Part 2

Last week, upon realizing that it had been a full year since the successful completion of my chemo, I decided I should take a bit of a self-assessment and review how that year had passed.  (To clarify, when I say “successful completion” of chemo I mean merely that I endured all of the strongly recommended installments thereof, put the cancer into remission for at least the present and had fewer occasions than anticipated where I had to use the bed pan – which is not even a bed pan these days but rather an inappropriately-colored sky blue slinky-like device with an awkwardly sized opening that forces the cookie tosser to surround not only the mouth but also the nose thereby only increasing the need for such a device once the show begins).  Granted, it has now been more than a year since the chemo ended as another week has passed, but, as also noted in last week’s post, I am of the Jewish faith and consistent with that we like to drag out the celebration of any holiday for days, New Years included.  See, for example, Hanukkah – eight days.  Sukkot – eight days.  Passover – eight days.  So this may – or may not – be the last installment in this series. 

I ended last week’s review post with what passes for me as optimism – “not all has been negative, so far.”  The one non-negative element that I touched upon, albeit briefly, was that writing this blog – and similar articles and other pieces for various media outlets – has been a source of great comfort to me.  In fact, as one of the members of my cancer tribe so insightfully pointed out just this morning, many of us with cancer just need a place to articulate that which we are experiencing and to have a means to connect with others who are, sadly, sharing similar trials.  And, as he pointed out, often it is just not possible to have these frank and frequently painful discourses with our loved ones.  They are just too close to the subject matter – i.e., us.  It is painful for them and for us, and we already are enduring enough pain as it is.  I have never heard of anyone with cancer complaining that the pain – in whatever form – was “surprisingly manageable” much less inconsequential.  Cancer is not a flu shot. 

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Moving Forward But Not On – Part 1

Today marks one year since I finished chemotherapy and, despite knowing that I was not cured, ringing the anti-cancer bell to much unwanted hoopla and fanfare.  Never have I felt less happy at an allegedly celebratory moment than that one.  For those who have not had the misfortune of this experience, you can perhaps liken it to celebrating most any birthday starting with your 40th:  Sure, you made it – and there is cake – but it is also a sobering reminder of the passage of time and its inevitable conclusion.  Except that when it’s the chemo bell, there is no cake, and even if there were you would be too nauseous to eat it. 

Since I have taken a full trip around the sun since I completed chemo, however, I thought I would do a sort of Year in Review.  This also happens to nicely coincide with my spiritual new year – Rosh Hashanah – although I am unclear whether I should be marking the passage of cancer time on a solar or lunar calendar.  I guess whichever will give me the most time until the cancer’s return would be my preference, but I realize one does not get a choice in these things.  Cancer, in my experience, is not subject to the rules of time and science that pertain to the rest of the universe.  Cancer has its own calendar. 

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That’s a Lot of Cancer

In a post from a few days back, I bemoaned – which is one of the most apt verbs when describing myself – the arrival of September (  Amid my complaints about sticky desk chairs and “new” math, I also touched upon my mixed emotions regarding the month’s role as the official 1/12th of the calendar dedicated to leukemia and the awareness thereof.  As many of you know, however, September – despite it being one of the shorter months – has no shortage of cancer awareness on its schedule. 

For starters, I should make clear that September is not limited to merely the awareness (celebration?) of leukemia.  Rather, leukemia is required to share the ninth month’s festivities with its rival blood cancer, lymphoma.  Now, as many of my readers undoubtedly are aware, I am not the best of sharers, a trait I attribute to being the younger child growing up.  Thus, while I think leukemia is a superior cancer – one that certainly merits its own month – lymphoma is honing in on the action.  Nonetheless, I am – perhaps surprisingly – okay with this co-habitation on the calendar.  My reason is simple:  Although I do have a type of leukemia, I have been told that it acts more like a lymphoma.  I do not know what that means, but I do think it entitles me to be able to doubly enjoy this awareness month.  It is not unlike celebrating both Christmas and Hanukkah, except that the only presents one gets for either are something unexciting such as socks. 

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I know everyone says this every single year, but I am going to state it again anyway:  I can’t believe it is already September.  I really can’t believe it, as evidenced by the fact that the month is almost half-over and I am just now coming to terms with its arrival and complaining about that fact.  Part of this disbelief, or at least suspended belief, is that September is the month that more than any other signifies that the party is over and it’s back to work time.  We learn this early on in school, as at least in some parts of the country – such as New York, where we know a thing or two about good schools – it is the month when the students return to the classrooms.  No more lazy summer days or idle parental admonitions about “okay for now, but when school starts . . .!!”  September is all back to business. 

In addition to never wanting to get back to work, and at the risk of offending everyone bedazzled with sapphires – as well as approximately two-thirds of the Virgos and about half-as-many Libras, I must admit that I do not care for September.  This may come as somewhat of a surprise to many who know me as those people undoubtedly are aware that I most vehemently dislike hot weather and did in fact enjoy school.  (This may partially explain why I was not overly popular as a child nor, come to think of it, as a parent of school-age children.)  Yet September, at least in most of the United States, can still be quite hot and, even worse, exceptionally humid, which made sitting on those wooden deskseats in un-air-conditioned classrooms a rather unpleasant and, as we grew older, pungent affair, thereby cancelling out any enjoyment I might have unpopularly derived from trying to become educated, which I also hear has largely fallen out of favor these days. 

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