I am reconsidering my thoughts on fighting cancer. It was my distinct impression that the doctors, nurses and technicians who dedicate their days and nights to the fight are the front lines of the war. We patients are along for the ride by necessity. What looks like bravery, as I said in I Don’t Feel So Courageous, is merely bowing to the inevitable and following medical advice. I might have been wrong.
My battle against cancer might involve more than I thought it did. Although showing up for chemo isn’t, in my opinion, any sort of bravery, showing up every time with a positive attitude, hopeful outlook and determination to understand and optimise the process might be.
Like any fighter, there are times I get knocked on my ass. The first couple rounds of chemo it was two or three days after the pump was disconnected. More recent rounds have taken a few days longer to stumble back to my feet. The poisons that went in last Saturday kept me punch drunk until early this morning.
Belaboring the metaphor, cancer and chemotherapy aren’t just a muscle cramp or training discouragement. You can’t walk it off or snap out of it. People around you won’t understand and may think you have stopped fighting. They don’t understand when you are 9 rounds into a 10 round bout and you’re struggling just to stay on your feet. Far from stopping the fight, you may very well be showing your very best, bravest, strongest effort by merely, and barely, standing up for round 10.
It isn’t getting through the hard times that impresses people with your bravery. It’s the things you do when the fight is going your way; when the cancer and treatments back off a little and let your fists flurry. Those are the times when fighting is easy.
Still, what a patient accomplishes during those days of strength might be an important part of the fight. Like training for the main event. I demand full information from the professionals, require reasons for every procedure, research and understand the process and take charge of the aspects within my control. Maybe that makes me brave and engaged in the battle. This blog is certainly part of the fight. Even if I can only write when I’m not on my knees in round 9.
I could be wrong. If I was wrong before I could be wrong now. Although it’s hard to land a jab when your opponent has no chin, my fists are up and I’m looking for a target.