Right now, I have no choices about my treatment, or if I will recieve treatment, or about the progression of my diseases. In some ways that is a blessing: where I do not having to weigh up the agony of Chemo versus a statistical percentage. I just went out for a wheel right now, and got frostbite on two fingers, it was 18 degrees C. out. The yellow, corpse white is now a bright red. Linda says over the phone that I might have to stay in a bubble. I said, maybe I should start wearing more of those armwarmers.
But progression aside I still can make choices of how I spend my energy, or what I do, within limits. There are those who can’t.
Collette, who comments here, is spending Sept. 6-7th walking 60K for breast cancer. I don't think she has ever walked 30km in one go. She made a choice.
Breast Cancer is not only the highest risk cancer in women, but 1% of those who get it are men. Yet for men, detection before it has moved to the bone is less frequent. So for those who have breast cancer history in their families, it is not just daughters but sons at risk too. In fact, one of the reasons fatality in men with breast cancer exists is because they are unaware that it can occur.
I know of women who have had breast cancer, because like any woman over the late 20’s I can’t imagine not knowing someone. Which is why Collette and the Weekend Warriors are spending two days walking 60 km. A fundraising choice, and a commitment toward a world where one day we don’t know of a friend or relative who, each week, spent the day before chemo crying. Who vomited, who had insomnia, who had their hair fall out, who had the visual aspects of their body and their identity reshaped for their survival. And those are considered the “lucky” ones.
There isn’t a 60K walk/wheel in my city or I would have joined up (hey, another couple first aid tent to rate!). But I will be doing the Breast Cancer Run in my City in early Oct.
You may be wondering what this has to do with my reasons to live? It is because every day and every choice I make, there are people in hospitals and hospices who do not have those choices. Last night, for the first time, I had to be fed, so yeah Raccoon, I know what that is like, and I’m guessing it doesn’t get any more exciting or dignified. I did insist that I did not actually need to be fed, as I could drop my face in the plate and eat that way. “Like a dog?!” the night worker said in shock, “But that does not give you dignity!”
“Lady,” I said, “After you’ve sucked as many pain pills off the floor as I have, you’ll have no illusions about dignity.”
After the series of seizures, or during, I don’t know exactly, I was able to use the built up fork to stab the food but couldn’t turn my hand or arm. And when I held the fork the other way, I WAS able to bring it to my face: like my forehead, my cheek, my nose, my hair, just not my MOUTH…..let's say the hand and eye coordination didn’t work. But in that, having something taken away, I realized that I still have many choices left, mostly thanks to the care workers who actually DO care about me and people like Linda and Cheryl. During the last few weeks I have woken up in the afternoon paralyzed. But thanks to a new listening system, Linda is able to move, transfer and transport me from my nap area into the study where I can work and communicate.
I live because I can live. I do because I can. And I try when I can’t.
In a few short weeks Collette will start her 60 km walk, and I believe that she will make it. I think it would be nice to drop in to her webpage here and give her a message of support (click on ‘friend’ and donate $10 or more, which is $9 American and 5 pounds UK, all of which is tax deductible – and you can leave your message). There is a list here of where the money goes, though I personally will say that I was hoping for a LOT more money focused toward some sort of new mammogram technique which isn’t so darn painful.
But if she does not finish all 60K this year, that is not what is important, because after all, here in Canada, one of greatest athletes is the one who didn’t finish the race, Terry Fox. It is the dream, the choice, the attempt which matters.
As for me, the following week, I will be participating in the Terry Fox Run, a race which has no winners, no medals, not even an entry fee, just people getting together, raising funds for a world where there are more choices and less cancer. The Terry Fox run is unique not just because he wished to eliminate the competitive nature but because people of bicycles, on roller blades and wheelchairs are welcome. Depending on the city, dogs and even horses (or people on horses) are welcome to participate as well. For those in Victoria with dogs, the run in Central Sannich welcomes dogs, roller bladers, cyclists and wheelchairs. I will be going to Mile Zero which has a 5K and 10K. Geee, I wonder which distance I will pick? It has never been about the medals. It has been about the choices.
There are days when the beast which are these diseases and this pain is all over me, there are days when the beast which is the cruel crushing medical system will roll over me. But there will be moments, and minutes, and hours and days when I make choices, when I decide what to do. When I live because I can. I talked to Linda today about how I feel ever more so disconnected to the rest of humanity, that what I feel and experience is so far away from what they imagine, what I of a year ago could imagine. We talked about how it would be if things could be different, and what life would be like if her credit card was all paid up. I immediately said, “Well, if that happened, then I would spent it all on anime and other items that I would promptly give away!” And she laughed and said that is EXACTLY why she is getting a limit like $100 put on the card. I made her laugh. It was just a moment but I made her laugh.
Yes, one day I will have to live in a bubble of sorts, and probably be fed more and more meals. And I wish that one of those choices would allow me to wheel with Collete and Team Weekend Warriors in Toronto. I think doing 60km would be VERY tiring on the arms. But maybe, with friends I wouldn’t notice the pain until LATER.
I live because I can. I live because my grandfather can not. I live because dying is easy, because giving up is easy. I live because spending 7 hours to prepare and then recover from feeding squirrels for 45 minutes is still feeding squirrels. I live because choices can be made. I live because people want to take those choices from me. While I can, I live.
Terry Fox, in the interview in which he ended his run, and then while undergoing treatment set up the Terry Fox Run, said, “I just wish people would realize that anything is possible if you try. Dreams are made if people try.”
15 hours ago