Before I finished chemotherapy I felt I needed to paint a reflection of myself with cancer. Since I always wore a black t-shirt it became central in the painting. Within the large “C” on the left side reads: The “C” Club, Membership without Permission.
Today is New Years Day; as I sit here on the sofa, I continually ruminate over how one or two human cells, unlike all others, begin to divide uncontrollably causing a deadly disease. I speak of the making of Cancer within the human body. If you have, or have had Cancer I believe you will understand what I write about, but if you have been lucky enough not have it and if you haven’t any interaction with someone close to you that has it; to only read or hear about it possibly allows the extent of its power to stay outside of your world.
Many (maybe most) of my earlier years held little understanding of what “cancer” was and what it meant to someone who had it. I was even one of those “sad” people who smoked for years and even though I spent many days using many products to stop, the reality of what smoking may do to me flew above my head without further thought.
Cancer is an enemy to those that have experienced its destruction, particularly how it changes your world forever. Not only does cancer cause changes (I now have half a lung on my left side) but the Chemotherapy drugs kills cells. Good ones and bad ones. It can’t tell the difference and the drugs are able to make you experience unbelievable side effects that may continue for many years. Where once my mind was quick now it is not as attentive. I am off-balance all the time and have developed a neuropathy in my hands and feet, as well as, experiencing body and hand tremors. It has been months since I have had Chemo yet these side effects come and go as they please.
Now that I have one lung that is less than it was I sometimes worry about my lungs. The flu, pneumonia and many other diseases can cause many problems. My surgeon stapled within the main bronchus tube going into my lung. As time passes scaring builds up causing the airway to narrow. Already I experience a constant wheeze from the narrowed airway.
Once Cancer develops in you, your life is in its hands, unless by chance the growth is controlled by surgery, chemo, radiation and all the new techniques that are available. Yet the “stop” of cancer growth isn’t a guarantee. The passage of time, usually five years, will allow you to say you are cancer free. The wait, the worry rises each year and during those years the cat scans that are given to you can tell a completely different tale at any time. Unfortunately, it takes only one little abnormal cell that stayed behind and hid from all the drugs and procedures can suddenly begin to multiply.
Cancer is particularly worrisome to those that are young, or those that or older with families and feel that they have not yet lived long enough. Believe me they haven’t. I must trust I will make it past the five-year mark, yet days come and go that I wonder if I will make it that far. If I find I can’t I will try to organize and take care of M before I go.
If you have Cancer, my wish for you is that you do well in your journey and if stones and potholes line that path then I pray you will have the inner strength to keep on going. If you are one who does not have any association with Cancer, please take some time and find out about it and possibly find one person that has it and chat with them.
Presently, I wish a Happy New Year to all of you. It will be a good year!!