Monthly Archives: December 2013

The Xmas Plea Follow up

I apologize for the delayed follow up to my previous Xmas plea, but some holiday events with my son and a pretty rough round of chemo has really distracted me from getting this post up. And because I’m STILL pretty wiped out from this 10th chemo treatment, I only have the motivation to keep this short.

Suffice to say, the nurses were quite thrilled with the presents I was able to give them through your generosity. In all, I was able to purchase approximately 575 K-cups for their Keurig machine, a requested book shelf for their office, 20 candy bars explicitly asked for by one contributor, and 25 gift cards to a local coffee shop for each employee in the office. The environment that morning (xmas eve) was expectedly hectic as the nurses worked to get the patients in and out (so they could get home to their families as soon as possible) and the mood was generally exuberant prior to Xmas day. Some patients came in dressed in absurd xmas outfits as the privileges of age allow them to do, and nurses complemented the patient attire with elf outfits.

I had a friend who has been documenting my cancer experience for the major local newspaper with me and so I was placed in a separate room for privacy concerns, but the nurses and doctors made it a point to come by and thank me (and you all) for your donations and messages of support. Other than the festivities and different accommodations, everything went as usual and the nurses plugged me into the bags of poison and filled me up, then sent me on my way so that everyone else could finish their treatments and get home.

Again, thank you all for allowing me to extend my appreciation and support to the nurses who help make each infusion as pleasant as can possibly be…which isn’t always so pleasant. You did a great part to make their xmas, and you certainly made mine.

Forgive me for the abrupt post, but I just don’t have it in me to be more expressive right now….just know that I appreciate your kindness and generosity for both me and those that are a part of my cancer experience. I hope to return the favor down the road.

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The Present and The Future (Part 2 of 2)

It has been important for me to remain emotionally neutral throughout this cancer experience, to not be swept away by the tides of optimism so many tell me to rely on or dragged into the darkness of negativity that can literally kill a weaker soul. Both are risky propositions and so it has been best for me to stay grounded, to acknowledge the positives and the negatives, but not to rely upon them.

I have faced down the darkness, however. I mean, I’ve lived my entire life thinking about a future, just accepting that, despite life’s inherent risks, that I would live to an old age…or at least live to a point that I had absorbed every moment of life I could seek, then let the weariness and fatigue take over. Still, I just KNEW I would live to an old age. We all sort of accept that right? So after the diagnosis sunk in, I did face down the darkness. I had to. I had to consider the possibility of a shortened existence, a possibility that remains, so as to figure out how best to live my life in the context of this moment.

But I couldn’t dwell upon it. I couldn’t accept it as inevitable. I just had to SEE it. I had to KNOW it…and then go back to that comfortable middle ground, that safe place of emotional neutrality. I had to just sit and wait it out.

And I’m still waiting.

But now the waiting is coming to an end. SOMETHING of an end. On Tuesday I will have another infusion, another poison flooding…the 10th of 12. Double digits. And so close to the end. Or…AN end. An end of the SCHEDULED treatments. But here’s the catch, that may not be the end of my infusions at all. My body is handling the treatments so well, despite a noticeable, but still slow digression of abilities, and so the potential is that there may be more. But they won’t last forever.

Still…I’m coming to some sort of an end to these treatments, and it has become much more difficult to stay in that safe, grounded spot of emotional neutrality. Suddenly, despite my weakening state, I’m imagining a future. I’m imagining an extended moment of relief from all these debilitating side effects, these painful feet, cracking fingers, sensitivity to cold, numbed appetite, feelings of overwhelming grossness, and so on. And I’m oddly allowing myself to embrace that future, that HOPEFUL future…because…well…I need to. I’ve faced down the darkness already, and I’ve remained stable and protected in this space, but I need more. I don’t work well in this middle ground. I need more intensity….more fire. And so I’ve begun imagining that precarious future.

Granted, I don’t know what the future holds still. It remains unwritten and will for quite some time I believe, but that doesn’t mean I can’t imagine a moment of relief from all this dying and hopefully engage with the life I once had, the life I so desperately want to retrieve out of this darkness.

And so now I’m imagining that moment of relief, whether that is before the coming surgery, the continued killing of more cancer, or the period where we raise the white flag and say, “well, we did our best.” The ultimate outcome doesn’t matter just yet…what really matters is having a period of relief where I can live my life again, of which I can imagine in this moment.

That is what I’m doing right now. Accepting a future.

My profile photo on Instagram is of the character Jonny from The Breakfast Club, in the very last still of the movie where he walks across the field in a moment of triumph and episodic intensity. Something about that moment…something about that moment struck me deep. It’s infused with such a tempered honesty, a breaking free from a moment of struggle to come out victorious on the other side..and that’s what I want. That’s what I imagine my future will be like. A worn, tired, but ultimately victorious moment. That’s what I pretend anyways…at this moment. That’s what I want.

But it’s not just that emotional moment. They are specific experiences I imagine. I told one directly to my coach at our end of the year dinner last night.

“I have this image in my head…that gets me through the day…I think about saying to you, ‘Ok. This is it. Let’s start at mile one. Let’s start from the beginning and work our way back up.'”

I want that experience to be made real, so badly.

I want so many running experiences actually. I want to tear through the trails of Brown County again, on 4 hour excursions from one end of the park to the other and back, seemingly getting stronger deeper into the run instead of weaker, tearing around corners and charging up the switchbacks like a predator chasing a prey. Like I used to. I want to run workouts on the boardwalk of Ocean City, New Jersey, circling the route again and again as I chase down faster and faster mile splits. Like I used to. I want to solo the 6 x 1 mile workouts on the rail trail where I crossed every finish marker under 5 minutes flat, feeling superhuman and accomplished for days after. Like I used to. I want to fight against the feeling of dying legs and lungs as my teammates and I push and pull each other around the track through the humid summer air and our fear-inducing 10 x 800s workout. Like I used to. I want to kick out 20 milers in the silent dead of winter and pitch black morning, finishing as the sun breaks the horizon and begins to wake the rest of the city, coming back home to warm pancakes and warmer coffee. Like I used to.

I want all this to be made real so bad. And now I’m starting to imagine they WILL be real. I’m letting this happen. My body is fighting against me right now and actually making long, consistent running next to impossible, but this also tells me we are getting close to an end…some sort of end.

And maybe, just maybe, no matter what the plan is for the future and no matter if the prospective outcome is hopeful or dire….I imagine a space of life where I can feel what it’s like to run free again. To live with a love that isn’t hurried by a sense of desperation, but more settled for a long, accomplished existence. To parent with an eye on the larger picture of my son’s development, to know I’ll experience his accomplishments alongside my own. To simply relax.

I’ve faced down the darkness and know deeply it’s reality, and I’ve sheltered and protected myself as I’ve waited out the degeneration of these repeated infusions, but right now I feel I need to let go a little more and start looking at a future, whether that is an unrestricted life towards the end of cancer or a completely liberated existence after cancer.

The future is still unwritten…but at least the story I write now can have an ending I desire, an ending to live towards. I’ll allow myself that much.

In the end…I want to walk across that field, worn, tired, but still strong enough to raise my fist in triumph. That’s going to be my finishing scene…

…just before I start all over again.

Podcast Interview

I have the second post from the last one almost ready to go up, but I need to mention the following podcast interview that just got posted last week. Julia Hanlon of the website Running On Om interviewed me about my running, veganism and cancer experience, so if you’re interested in literally hearing my thoughts on such subjects, instead of sifting through my rambling posts here, click on the following link…

http://runningonom.com/2013/12/10/roo-12-scott-spitz-on-running-veganism-and-battling-cancer/

There is also a good selection of other inspiring individuals on the site as well. I feel privileged to be in good company!

The Present and The Future (part 1 of 2)

The Present

“It must feel terrible being confined by your own body.”

I couldn’t find the words to put it so succinctly, but that was it. She expressed it exactly.

It feels terrible…to have a physical force acting back upon you. That physical force being your own body, the one thing that is supposed to be on your side, working with you. But it’s not. Just over a year ago this was not the case. My body was everything. It was the realm I lived in, the existence I concentrated on, the other teammate helping me get where I wanted to go in a way I never had before. Where I once concentrated on so many cerebral pursuits, now I was consumed by the physical world, not giving so much attention to shifting concepts of morality, abstract constructs, maybes and might be’s, but feeling what can be felt. I measured success by very definitive and rigid standards applied to physical actions. I built physical strength and lived in physical worlds. I chose forests over philosophical essays. Built capillaries instead of capital.

What could be known, could be felt, could be experienced is all that mattered. And living by this new consideration was serving me quite well. Success was measured in minutes and seconds. Larger lungs and stronger hearts. Podiums. Progression. New frontiers of my body’s capabilities.

Until I wasn’t. Until cancer….and then chemo.

Now I’m left trying to reconcile this new physical existence, where I simply can’t progress like I want to, like I’ve learned to, like I know how. I can’t build muscle without it breaking back down. I can’t breathe deeper and deeper, but am left sucking in air that feels thinned and sensing my body grasping for more. I can’t run without great preparation and consideration of my physical abilities. My feet are in constant pain, as if someone has snuck sandpaper into the soles of my shoes and each morning my feet are worn raw from the friction. My hands look as if they have swollen again and again, stretching the skin at my fingertips like over-inflated balloons. The creases in my fingers and hands dry and crack, opening wounds that stare back at me like reddened eyes, bleeding out at their worst moments. The passages in my nose wear thin in the cold and shock me with a deep red expulsion every morning, reminding me that no matter how I look on the outside, something is dying within. And then there is the cold, working in concert with the chemotherapy, and ruining the ease and comfort I seek throughout the day. A side effect being of great temperature sensitivity, I can’t so much as sit around too long in any environment under 70 degrees or else the cooling effect filters into my hands and sends what feels like electrical shocks into my fingers with every movement. Let the cold sit for too long and an anxiety builds that sends me quickly packing and running out to the car for a desperate warmth. Eating is no relief. When I can actually work through the subtle, but persistent, nausea I often go long periods without food, then am suddenly hit by a weakness that demands sustenance, but I then have difficulty not eating too quickly out of hunger, sending a different sort of food-induced nausea into my system. It’s only after the long period of slowed digestion do I experience some sort of calm and comfort, only to start the process again.

It is wearing on me. Slowly but surely, it is wearing on me.

It has been 9 of 12 scheduled treatments and though my body’s ability to fight through this slow deterioration continues to amaze me, building after breaking, the accumulation of this experience on my mental state isn’t so easily repaired. I’m tired of breaking down and not being able to build back up. I push and it pushes back even harder now. My days of running 3 to 4 days consistently are now broken into one day on/one day off…if I’m lucky. I go one day on and 2 to 3 days off sometimes. My feet give me little relief and though I experience moments of inspiration that compel me to knock out 10 or so miles, I’m often relegated to 5 tops. That doesn’t sit well with me.

I simply feel confined by my own body. It feels terrible.

There is a great power in my physical self, that in the past has allowed me to accomplish things others simply can not, and even today allows me to work through this experience in ways that others can not. That is not lost on me. I have a genetic fortune, honed and maximized through an obsessive drive…and to have that fortune wither away, put up against a chemical enemy more powerful than an inspired mind, feels absolutely terrible. My body is supposed to be on my side, allowing me to live a life as passionate and free as I possibly can, but right now it is only confining, keeping me from achieving utopian goals, or simply experiencing the life I’ve tried to create to this point.

That feels terrible. That is my present.

But…but all is not lost. This is my present, but the future is still unwritten. I do recognize that although I am confined by my body, it is the chemicals that flood it that are truly to blame, and those chemicals aren’t forever. They can’t be. For better or for worse, they are temporary. I know this and with my 10th scheduled treatment coming on Xmas Eve, I can see a perceived, potential end to this flooding…this deterioration…this confinement.

Right now, this feels terrible. Right NOW, this is my present.

But I still have the potential of my future….(post to come next)

A Xmas Plea

I have many posts I want to get up here – some inspiring, some cathartic – but right now I feel it more important to use this space for an idea I have…of which I’m asking your help.

—————————-

My next infusion is on December 24th. XMAS EVE. Merry Xmas to me, right? I’ve understandably been asked,

“Are they open on xmas eve? Can you do it another day?” to which I reply.

“Cancer doesn’t take a holiday…so neither do treatments.” and then with a little humor, “And come on, TARGET and WAL-MART are open on Xmas eve…no way are they going to hold off cancer treatments just because it’s Xmas eve if Target and Wal-Mart keep their doors open.”

Hmm…maybe Target and Wal-Mart should offer free chemo treatments on Xmas eve and give the nurses a much needed holiday. “Buy one George Foreman grill, get one Avastin infusion FREE!”

Anyways, I don’t have a problem going in for an infusion on Xmas eve. It’s the nurses I feel bad for. They aren’t the ones dying. They are there because we HAVE to be there…and that sucks. So here’s the thing. Ever since my second treatment I’ve been bringing in a box of coffee to share with the nurses and patients alike, and let me tell you, they LOVE it. They now know when I’m coming in and look first thing to see if I brought coffee and then go on and on about how much of a treat it is for them. I get it. Seeing as how I’m probably FUELED by caffeine for at least 90% of the day…I get it. And I’m guessing whatever coffee they have at the office is of the insultingly bad Folgers type and brewed through some inadequate cheap machine someone brought in from home when they got a nicer one for Xmas. I don’t know..that just seems to be the pattern. Anyways…

I’ve been thinking about bringing in coffee again for the Xmas Eve treatment, but that just seems so..so..routine. It’s XMAS DAMN EVE after all, and so I feel compelled to do something a little nicer for them. They deserve it.

Think about it. These ladies (they’re all ladies…just so you know) have to come to work early every morning and make a pretty damn miserable experience for us patients a little bit more pleasant, easier, comfortable. Despite whatever issues they may be having, they need to accommodate our more dire situations, even if they don’t feel like it. Their job is to administer poisons to us and directly make us feel pretty damn terrible, and yet still try their best to make us feel comforted in the process. That can’t be easy. But I’ll tell you, they do a great job and it makes me feel much better knowing they are there to help, as best they can.

Yet even in concert with all the success stories they get to experience…they also have to watch us die. Patients they can’t help but feel connected to in some way, who they get to know, simply die. And they have to reconcile that.

That sucks.

So this is where I ask for a little of your help.

I want to get them coffee again, but more so, I want to get them something that will continue to make their job easier after I’m done with my treatments. My last SCHEDULED treatment is in February (thought there might be more…another post to come I’m sure), and I want to give them something they can use when I won’t be coming in with boxes of coffee, that will help them in their job and help the patients they treat.

So this is the thing. I contacted the Keurig company to see if they would be willing to donate a machine to the office, but was relegated to using their email form that barely let me explain the situation…so I don’t expect a response. So I’m calling on everyone who reads this and feels compelled to help me out to donate just a little bit (to my paypal) to help me buy them a machine and supplies of K-cups. I was thinking of contacting a K-cup roaster to donate a year’s supply or something, but can’t do much without a machine to speak of. So this is why I’m asking all of you, blog readers, instagram followers, face bookers, etc. etc. etc.

It wouldn’t take much to buy the machine (approximately $150) and the rest would go towards buying the brew pods (of good quality, of course!)..as many as possible to keep them well stocked.

With all that said, if you feel compelled to help me out, all you would have to do is the following:

1. Donate to my PayPal account – urbanwings@hotmail.com at http://www.paypal.com

2. Write in the message field – For the nurses.

From there, I’ll purchase the machine and brew pods, deliver the gift to them on Xmas eve and take photos so you can all see their appreciation.

So yeah, if you’ve got a little money left over from your xmas shopping (no matter how little) and want to help out the Nurses at St. Vincent’s hospital here in Indianapolis, and their patients as well, please considering donating to this effort. You all will be my best friends more than you already are.

As always, thank you friends. And Merry Xmas!

And to get you in the mood a little…

A Light Amidst The Dark

Emotionally Winning

This one came out of nowhere. In a way.

And to be honest, I needed this…this “win” as I’ve been referring to it. Because the more I look back on my life the past year, the more it builds that I keep getting kicked in the face…over and over and over and over. Divorce. Job loss. Disease. More disease. Then most recently I find out my son needs surgery for an “undescended testicle”, a relatively minor and common operation, but an operation none the less. Part of the reason for taking care of that situation is to reduce the risk of cancer later in life, and as it seems right now, considering the disease that seems to be intermittently weaving its way through my immediate and extended family, that’s nothing to risk. Still, I can’t help but think, “When does this stop?” Where is “bottom”, knowing full well there is no bottom, no predictable trajectory of success and failure. Our experiences are more separate threads that weave and unravel before us, holding us together at times and letting us fall apart at others. The good with the bad. The wins with the losses. The light in the dark. And for quite some time now it seems like the lights keep shutting off, and yet others only dimly turn on, or at least flicker against the black. I just can’t win.

Then I got an email. On the day of my last infusion.

I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say it was highly complimentary, risky (not risqué), and abrupt, as if sent with a dose of courage, yet reserved out of sensibility. It was from a stranger of sorts, who I had not met, but was connected to through social media and with whom I had developed a distant, safe, disconnected interest. I mean, let’s be real here. It’s social media. And I have cancer. But she emailed me…and I emailed back a, now admitted, “feeler” email. Hers seemed to express a deeper interest in me, but I didn’t want to read too much, so I sent back a similar response. And then suddenly the emails and texts switched from a trickle to a flood and a more immediate connection was quickly established, turning into late night phone calls and Skype sessions that made the mornings a more difficult, but worthwhile, drudgery. But, it didn’t have to be like this. This was initiated through social media, a less than solid foundation for any sort of deeper relationship, but very quickly we found intense commonality between each other, in our interests, our perspectives, our experiences growing up and now as adults. Much to my surprise, this disconnected form of communication actually established something of a legitimate connection…and….well..the lights turned on. Amidst all the relative darkness, I suddenly had an intense light filling my days.

Finally. Finally I got a damn win. A risky, but more reliable situation that has brightened my days. And let me tell you, for many reasons which I’ll try to clarify, this is huge for me. But to summarize, I needed this win, because right now it seems nothing in my life is reliable. Not my health. Not physical comfort. Not my running. Not my future. Nothing. So much has seem to have been stripped down through this experience and I’ve been trying hard to hold onto what I’ve got, keeping some semblance of my former life, whether that is through running, riding, a part-time job, friendships, etc., but it has never been easy and always feels quite precarious. Amidst all that, I NEVER thought a deeper relationship could develop. I mean, come on, whatever I may have going on as an individual, there is just as much stacked against me, against the practicality of a relationship. For a long period after my surgery, the potential of a relationship didn’t matter and there was a comfort in not having to care about it. I was so destroyed from my surgery that even the idea of being in a relationship was ridiculous and I felt so unattractive to myself that it would have been quite a stretch to imagine someone else being attracted to me. I was basically an unpleasant, physically and emotionally, body lying still, in wait, waiting to rebuild itself back to a functional state. But slowly, very slowly, I did start to build back up and found little bits of my life, physical and emotional falling back into place. Still, the idea of a relationship just seemed ridiculous. Somewhere along the line though, that started to change, and I found myself a bit torn by the realization, that slowly, again very slowly, I was feeling the desire to be in a relationship, as if I was capable of loving again, but found that desire up against the wall of my reality, my periodic and difficult physical deterioration and an incredibly uncertain long-term future. But…there’s no denying that desire was still there, and growing, which caused an emotional conflict I was trying to work through, but struggled to find grounding within. I was left..just….left there. No conclusion to the matter and curious how this would play out in the future, whether I would be able to develop a relationship through this experience or just go my days alone as I often had. To be honest, I can manage either…but I know what I would prefer.

And I got that email. She turned on the lights.

The Notion of Love

I need to clarify something here. I will use the term “love” in this writing, but not out of naivety and ungrounded hopefulness. It’s funny though, how the excitement and newness of a relationship drives us towards these terms, that feel so right, but can often leave us in embarrassment. Our vocabulary is limited. The emotional spectrum seems limitless, with infinite increments along the way, and yet we seem to rely on “like” and “love” to encompass them all, or confusedly use “love” in so many complex manners that it tends to lose meaning and power. And yet to deny the idea leaves us using grade school terminology more suitable for one’s first romantic attempt instead of a deeper expression. We do it all the time. “I love to run”. “I love my cat.” “I loooove coffee.” And yet, they don’t even come close to explaining what we mean when we say we love someone in the context of a growing relationship, but at the same time, it’s not ideal to just throw around the term amidst ones developing, waxing and waning feelings in the newness of a relationship. It’s triggering. It’s confining. And yet, it’s also liberating. To be succinct…it’s just damn confusing. For the sake of this post, however, I will use the term freely for its power and leave it up to you to suspend your judgement of it’s meaning and just accept the context. Deal? Deal.

And so, I’m totally in love. In that I love this experience. In that I love my life. In that I love what I know about her. In that I love feeling enthusiastic again. In that I love the color of my days. In that I love waking up with purpose. In that I love having a distraction from my disease. In that I love being inspired. That’s what I mean.

It’s funny what being in love does to one’s emotional state. Because, technically, I’m still dying….and yet, everything is suddenly transformed, brightened, positive, hopeful. I can’t explain it. As artists and intellectuals have tried since the beginning of communication, it just can’t be explained. It can only be felt. And in the midst of so much darkness in my life recently, this new, alternate state is drastically different, an emotional extreme heightened by the divergent imbalance. Things have been so bad that something so good is…well…just so damn good. It’s like the colors are brighter. The music louder. As if I’ve downed 10 cups of coffee in a row. Each day is laughing, smiling, exuberant…despite it all.

How do I convey how incredibly important that is in the context of this experience, this precarious existence?

I don’t think I can. I can only state to you plainly. This distinct emotional excitement feels heightened, more intense, more IMPORTANT in the context of a potential life and death situation. It..it feels like winning. It feels like having overcome a seemingly insurmountable obstacle and then riding that wave of accomplishment far into the future. It undoubtedly feels like a fist in the air, in your face, standing on the podium, sort of winning…and at the same time a kind of collapsed, accomplished, calm and contented, lying weakened in the grass sort of winning too.

Fault me for perceived hyperbole…but this IS how it feels. And in the context of life and death, who am I to deny it?

Risk and Reward

I will concede you the risk though.

Love IS a risk…it always has been, in living or dying. No one denies that and yet it is this risk which infuses it with so much greater meaning, and sometimes, devastation. Risk gives love its power. It’s overcoming the potential emotional devastation of being left behind, of falling out of love, of investment with little return, of disappointment, of so much frustration…and yet we take the risk over and over again, because the reward is always worth it. The comfort of another, the successes together, the sharing of experience. The rewards are just as enticing as the risks are frightening, and so we often err on the side of risk taking, jumping from the cliffs edge, leaping over the fire…against taking good notes, fiscal responsibility, driving under the speed limit.

My situation is no different…or maybe it is. On one hand, what do I have to lose? If my existence is to be abrupt, why would I ever hesitate in taking this risk…of jumping over this fire? And on the other, what if this risk fails and I’m left alone again, the light dimming yet again, the disappointment adding to my already accumulated disappointments? Well, that is my risk to bare, right? To be honest though, I can handle it. What’s a failed attempt in the midst of everything else seemingly held together by frail threads? I’ve come to expect a lack of consistency, of quickly changing circumstances, of future plans spun out of control and out of reach.

Ultimately though, I refuse to let my unwritten future dictate my actions in matters such as this. I’ve always sought to deepen the experience of living, to take risks, to fall in love when the opportunity presents itself and so I’m accepting this risk with the same sense of abandon that I did before it became infused with so much more meaning.

And so far…it has been a risk well worth taking.

Love in a time of Dying

Our conversations are pretty normal, in getting to know each other through stories about growing up, explaining perspectives and detailing interests…but sometimes I have to address the obvious. The dynamic that makes our situation so unique. Recently, I stated to her with a compassionate seriousness,

“You have an out. I want you to know this, that you have an out. If this gets too heavy for you, too much….just know you have an out and I will completely understand.”

She tried to shake off the idea, but I had to reaffirm it, to let her know just how real this is and how deep it can get depending on how this story writes itself down the line. I may become physically destroyed again. I may have that second surgery. I may increasingly deteriorate. I may become cut short. But then again…I may become stronger, more intense. I may come out of this unscathed. I may have a future to write. Time will tell and the experience of moving through that time holds a lot of unknowns, unexpected and abrupt changes that may pull me one way or another. I don’t know. I’m doing pretty damn good through it all so far, I can tell you that, but I can’t rely on much right now….except hopefully her.

At the 9th infusion my doctor said to me, “Your blood counts are beautiful. You’re doing something right….but I have no idea what that is…just keep doing it.” and followed that up saying, “What we are dealing with is very rare. So it is nothing short of a miracle that you are doing so well in this.”

That was encouraging, in as much as it was discouraging..or maybe frightening. But at the same time it alluded to a hope for a future that is still brightly lit instead of the one that tends to lie in a darkness I strain to see beyond. It was also an accumulation of a hope that caught me off-guard in a conversation with her that ran late into the night.

I don’t talk too much about what is beyond this experience….because there is no “beyond” that is garuanteed to me just yet. I remain positive and I remain hopeful IN THE NOW. I don’t remain positive about the future….for that I stay neutral, in a manner that protects my emotional state from being pulled into extremes. Just as I refuse to cower and hide, give in to self-loathing or despair about my days, I also refuse to imagine a future, know a victory and see beyond the darkness. And yet, we were talking casually about subjects not related to cancer, specifically about my son, and without hesitation I made a statement about the future, about what my sons relationship with me will be like when he’s 30. No sooner than I had said it, I suddenly felt a confusion build inside me, a conflict between a future that might not involve me in his 30s and an immediate hope…and almost expectation….that this was merely a temporary obstacle that I would overcome with her and move away from into a more stable life where I would see what the relationship I’m building with my son turns into. I was caught off guard and felt somewhat disappointed in myself for thinking past my reality….and yet couldn’t help but recognize this as another effect of her influence, of giving me something so valuable and intense that I want to hold onto desperately, that I don’t want to lose, that I want to extend further into the future…past cancer.

She has helped me turn on a light that lets me see something past this darkness…but I hesitate with my finger on the switch, not quite sure I’m ready to keep looking that far ahead. In that brief, foreign moment, however, it felt good to look ahead without reservation. Without cancer. Without a dying.

Everything is Good

Genuinely concerned friends often ask me, “How are you DOING?” The emphasis underscoring their honesty and attention. I’ve often found myself torn between addressing my precarious positivity and offering the honesty this experience demands. There was always hesitation in my response before I could answer. But now…before I even formulate a response that brings the two sides together, I can genuinely respond, “I’m good. I’m doing really good.” Because I am. Because suddenly she paints my days like this. Because I think about her and about us and not about cancer. Not about the weight upon my shoulders. Not about the darkness that always hovers in the distance. Just like that I’m suddenly “good”, distracted from the struggles of my days by the focus and excitement that consumes a new relationship, that has given me a new “baseline”, that puts me in an emotional state I forgot I was capable of experiencing.

I thought I was good before. I truly did. I thought I was moving through this experience with a mental and emotional state that was pretty damn good considering, but now, well, I realize it was still compromised, still lacking…darker. It was darker than I could realize. And her presence made me realize just how much brighter it could be, how genuinely happier I could be. So now, everything is good….despite it all…I’m really quite good. The light in my days is simply brighter, much brighter.

For so much darkness around me…she sure did bring in a lot of light.