What is this ‘fight’ against cancer?
One thing that is said to you when you are ill with cancer is that you are fighting cancer, people cheer you on saying that you must fight it and you push yourself on saying that you are fighting till your last breathe to try and win the battle. I even say that this is a war and while I will win many battles by fighting, I know that in the end cancer will win the war.
This is all great but now I find myself in the position of needing to understand what fighting cancer really means, I got good news last week, the current chemotherapy that I am is working and the tumours are stable which given how fast they were growing is fantastic. It means I am now on this chemotherapy for as long as it works and I realise that is a double edged sword. Being on chemotherapy, even one as ‘easy’ as this oral chemotherapy isn’t fun, the side effects are constant with tiredness, nausea, dry hands and ‘chemo brain’ so one hopes to have an end in sight BUT to come off this chemotherapy means that it is no longer effective at keeping the cancer at bay and the cancer is growing again. So that is a quandary and I’m not sure how to fight that?
I’m desperate to be more normal again, not be so sleepy, be able to eat normally, be able to drink, to be able to concentrate for more than two minutes but really I should be praying for that to be the case for as long as I can. It was this thought process that made me question, what ‘fighting cancer’ really means?
If I’m honest I don’t think I do an awful lot, I think I’m on this roller coaster of a ride and what happens will happen, the drugs do their stuff, till they don’t do their stuff and that’s almost the sum of it. Yes I can think positive but I believe that means for me to find as much joy and happiness in my life as I can (see my blog about it) but can it actually kill aggressive cancer cells, I’m not so sure. I can eat more healthily and load up on the antioxidants but when you are on chemotherapy there are schools of thought that the high dose supplements can hinder the effect of the chemotherapy. I can have healing but I think they heal the soul rather than the physical body.
The oddest thought I’ve had about fighting cancer is that essentially you are fighting yourself, cancer is a mutation of your own cells, it’s your own body going wrong so how can fighting really help. In fact fighting in some ways is harming me, it’s making me try and live my life like I used to and then when I crash and end up in bed for a few days recovering I have to learn all over again what I can’t do anymore and that makes me depressed. The phrase makes me think if I don’t fight to live my life like I used to them I am giving in and I’m scared to give in as that might mean I’m allowing the cancer will run rampant.
While I’m busy fighting can I really find the space to accept what is happening to me and learn to live my life as it is now and find some peace with it. I don’t want to wait until there is no longer a reason to fight to find some peace, I want to find some calm and peace now so I can enjoy the life I have. Fighting feels in essence a destructive force, a battle, a negative energy and while you still have the hope of being cured from cancer then that might be right but when you know you won’t be cured isn’t there a better phrase?
The language around cancer is so predetermined, fighting, positive, inspirational, victim; they are all the words people say because it’s used all the time and I don’t have a problem with people saying them to me as I think they use them because they don’t know what else to say and I’d rather they said this than nothing, to face silence is much sadder and lonelier. But I hope that one day a wider range of language will be used as then it can help us patients know how to feel on our journey through this disease.Tagged in: cancer, fight against cancer, ill, War
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