Cancer log 34: …

Cancer log 34.

Several people have commented to me that they've been surprised at how much my normal life has just kept going -- either they expected someone with cancer would just switch over to being someone with cancer, or in some cases, they themselves had cancer (or some other serious illness), and had found that that became the focus. And listen -- you have to do what works for you. There is no inherent virtue to the way I've been doing things.

I found the way one of my colleagues framed it tremendously helpful to me; she said I could either continue working and just take off the days I really needed to take off, or I could go on disability immediately and focus on dealing with the cancer full-on. She'd seen others go through this, and she said that for some people, it seemed helpful having other things to think about, a normal routine and activities to engage with, as much as they were able. And for me, that's so clearly what I'd prefer. But that's not going to work for everyone, and it may not even keep working for me. I'm still in the diagnosis / testing phase -- I have no real idea how the various phases of treatment will affect me.

That said -- I do have a truly terrible cold right now. And it's just a cold, but it has knocked me out (and Kevin too -- he has the same cold). I was feeling exhausted all day today; I barely had the energy to put away a load of laundry; just climbing a flight of stairs wore me out. I have a hacking cough, barely kept in check with regular dosing with cough drops. And I'd agreed to do this thing, months ago -- to go to this play tonight, that started at 7:30, and stay afterwards for a panel discussion. Keep in mind that even when I'm not sick, I'm usually asleep by 10, so you can see that doing this while sick was a stretch for me. All day, I was waffling about it, tempted to call and cancel, back out -- I even came up with a replacement for my spot on the panel, someone I thought they'd be okay with subbing in. (Angeli, you were almost a panelist.)

But...I knew that normally, even when it happens past my bedtime, art energizes me. This has happened before, pre-cancer -- I've had to talk myself into going out for evening events. Experience has made clear that being on a stage, talking about a topic I love, a topic I feel strongly about (in this case, South Asian arts and the politics thereof) is going to a) be tons of fun b) give me a chance to see colleagues I don't get to see often enough, and c) make me feel great both during and afterwards.

So at 5 p.m. I took a solid dose of DayQuil, and then I took a shower, and after both of those, I felt almost human again. Still a little wobbly -- Kevin asked if I was okay to drive when I knocked over a ketchup bottle trying to make myself a hot dog for dinner before I headed out. But I thought I was okay. And, in fact, my energy levels stayed up, even thorough the play, and the panel after was super-fun, and even though I didn't get home 'til 11, I'm still a little buzzed now.

There will likely be days when I just have to cancel, have to beg off prior commitments because I really am too sick to follow through, and I'm going to need to pay more attention to that than I'm used to doing. (I tend to just power through.) But I do think there's so much benefit to still being out there in the world, as much as you can, doing the work you love. At least for me, that's part of staying healthy too.

And now I'm going to eat something and pour myself into bed. G'night, folks. See you in the morning!

P.S. The whole time I was grading papers this weekend, there was a little voice in the back of my head whining -- "But I have *cancer*!

I sternly told it that if I wanted the fun parts of teaching to continue, I didn't get to just opt out of the less fun parts. I knew that New England Puritan work ethic was going to come in handy eventually...

One thought on “Cancer log 34: …”

  1. My late husband John had terminal cancer, and even for him it was better to stay involved with life. He said, “I’m not dead yet!” He ended up working until the end, even in his last week. His employer was extraordinarily supportive. For him focusing on living really helped him to keep going.

    I know your situation is different, but whether you have a good chance or not, I think it’s valuable to remember that you still have a life to live while all this is going on.

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