Tuesday, March 4, 2014

She is Not Me

"She is not me." That is what I tell myself as my thoughts linger on something I just read. It is too long of a focus. It hits me square between the eyes.

I read about a woman apparently dying of cancer - ovarian cancer. She loved Anita Moorjani's book, and believed she, too, would come back from the illness. While the story has not yet been fully written, there seems to be the belief by others around her that it is. It was also said that the woman had given up on life herself.

So many things go through my mind in a case like this. Likely many who are aware of Anita's story hope that they, too, will witness a miracle. It also occurs to me that people go where they go, too, and sometimes it really bothers me to know that there are people who already have me dead. 

Early in all of this someone told me, "cancer hasn't met you yet" as a way to say that anything could happen. A diagnosis was not necessarily a death sentence. 

When I feared that with the end of chemo, I could still deal with it, I sought assurance that it was possible to truly be done with it. Yes, I was told. There were cases like mine that were finished when the chemo was.

A friend told me she felt it would not be that way - but not until her feelings were proven right. I, too, had feelings. I don't think it was fear, but I just somehow knew it was not the end that so many were celebrating. I wanted to celebrate, but it just did not feel over.

I acted as though it was, and tried my best to get "back" to life. "Vacation" was over. I tried my best, but found myself questioning things. I hoped all was better than I felt they were. Perhaps it was only fear. Within a short period of time, though, I was told there was something going on, and  damn, how I hate to be right in cases like these.

I was told it may be nothing, but we needed to watch. I felt confident it would be OK. I wasn't too worried until they started talking to me about the HIPEC surgery. But I still walked away, hoping for the best. After the upset came the calm. And I still struggled to figure out how in the world I was going to be in the world. The "certainty" of being on "the other side" was decimated, but I was still trying. 

I really felt like I did not have a choice.

Then it got to the point that Avastin showed up in the picture...

Why am I writing this? Why am I revisiting this? What good does it do me? In some ways I think it serves to show me that despite my desire to be OK, things haven't exactly gone in that direction. I think it is some ways showing me how I am like that woman, even though I only know the smallest portion of her story.

That is why I think I feel the need to tell myself that I am not her. I have no idea about the rest of her life, just only a seeming failed hope at being "rescued" from a cancer fate all too familiar.

Why did I see it? Why ovarian cancer? Ugh. I can't imagine it was to bring me down, or to a place of feeling disillusioned. That would be a pretty cruel act of any "powers that be." 

No matter what does or doesn't happen, I am really, truly doing my best to be in this life, and dance with it moment to moment. Despite the fact that I have had enough sucky to last a lifetime, it seems that it still shows up as I wind my way on this path. I guess a diagnosis of cancer doesn't give you an automatic exemption from the "suck." 

In some ways, though, I am more at peace with the dance of life than I have ever been. It makes the times I am not in some ways more striking. I go from one extreme to the other. How can that be? Polar opposites can't both be right, and maybe the "truth" lies somewhere in the middle.

I am terrified to trust the leap I seem to need to take. And yet, there really is no other path. Life in so many ways has been like that before all of this. No choices were ever met with the kind of certainty I would have certainly preferred. There were other times I was tormented and terrified, too. But I still knew the right thing to do, and when it was done, I was at peace about it - until something else showed up that made me question things in regard to my next move.

So few things in my life have ever felt easy. How much of that was with a purpose, and how much of it was my fear of listening to what I felt deep inside - especially when it was at odds with what others believed should be. Perhaps those times were like the bunny slope in skiing. Maybe they were in some ways lessons I could reflect back on in a time like this. Something that could tell me that I am making the right choices when I got to the expert slopes.

Sadly, life itself is not necessarily an outcome of a "right" choice. Some would have us think that, but I have my doubts.

I so wish I could have some certainty in regard to a desired outcome right now. But the only certainty I have in that regard is that there isn't any to be had.

My mind keeps imagining things that aren't exactly things that would indicate a desired outcome. Is that fear? There are other things I used to imagine - that made no sense at all at the time - that have come to fruition in some form, and it does scare me to see these things. 

I think about Scrooge, and his conversation with the last ghost. Are the visions of things to come, or only possibilities? Can they be altered? Can living a life fully and completely and with love and understanding and compassion, and full of expression - a life only recently begun to be lived that way -be a pathway to a different outcome?

I am not doing anything in the hope of effecting an outcome. I am really not sure that is possible. All I am doing is doing my best to live, and hope that I have the opportunity to do it - healthy- for a long time to come.

And...even if that woman and I have similar outcomes, I am still not her, although there are inevitable comparisons. I often see videos of people very much alive, and full of hope, and they still die. I don't want to be so afraid to be them that I do not fully live.

Why is death often seen as a failure to live? I think the biggest failure - if there is one - is not truly living while we are alive. It is kind of interesting to think about this, actually. So many people have a fear of failure. If death equates to failure, then maybe that is in some part why people fear death. You have to do something right to avoid failing, and if you die you have "obviously" done something wrong. And there is nothing you can do to make it right. It is the biggest type of failure - by that reasoning.

What would it be like to consider that everything we do is somehow right? It would certainly take away the idea that anyone is a screw-up. It would take away judgments. It would take away the idea that there are failures. There would be no disappointment. 

Would it also take away our growth?

Some may say it is a motivation to feel those things, that it can be an inspiration, a push to do better. Do we really need it? Or do we just justify it by saying we do?

Questions. Questions. Questions.

It just never seems to end. I guess it is a good thing because maybe the time it does end is when life does. And the fact that I ask these questions means I am still very much among the living.

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