Thursday, April 18, 2013

Win some, lose some...

           So it appears that I am winning the battle with cancer, but as with all battles, all wars, there have been casualties along the road to victory. First, my job, then a friend or two who for whatever reason couldn't handle ME being sick... (Still trying to figure that one out). Let's not forget the spleen, that mighty and heroic organ that so valiantly took so many of those mutant blood cells with it. I think I'll put in for a posthumous medal for it - it certainly earned one! Then during the next battle, indeed the worst of the fighting, the casualties were astronomical. Legion after legion of hair soldiers were lost, though I was eventually able to bolster the ranks with new recruits, the numbers are a far cry from pre-war levels.

           It was during that battle that I allied myself with an as yet unknown force from the East, and what a mighty force it is!!! With just a small unit (of stem cells) and some amazing new technology, that force enabled me to bolster my ranks from within, in essence recreating a whole new army from those few cells. That, my friends, is not even the most amazing part of the tale... What is truly amazing, some might even say miraculous, is the fact that this alliance came with absolutely no strings attached. No monetary exchange, no promise to lend aid should the tables be turned, no demand or request for anything... Just the chance, from a complete stranger, to start fresh. I can't recall a single moment in my life before or since where such kindness, compassion and generosity have been shown to me...

           Most recently there have been other losses, more hair, muscle strength and flexibility. I had been vigorously engaged in an exercise routine up until the beginning of this year, when I came down with a nasty cold. That was followed by the flu, then another cold, and then cancer brought out its secret weapon... GVHD. This is where the hair was lost, though not from my head. You might not think this a really big deal, but when you have to shower every day and you feel smooth skin where there once was a forest of hair, it acts as a constant reminder of what has been lost. Couple that with sore muscles and tight joints that don't bend as far as they once did, and those seemingly little things begin to pile up. One bee's sting isn't much to most people, but when accompanied by a thousand of his little bee friends, suddenly even the stoutest, strongest warrior can be laid low. These may only be small things to the outside world, but in my head they're a constant reminder that I no longer have that thick head of hair, that I can no longer run for more than a few seconds, that I can't be out in the sun for hours on end, and will never again have tan skin, that I don't have that job I so loved, and that I may never again do that kind of work professionally. It can make one want to give up trying to regain what was lost. And then the gorilla in the corner grunts and sends his minion Guilt over to flank me. Guilt that I'm not working . Guilt that I do not provide for my family, who are MY responsibility. Guilt that if I don't get up and stretch and workout and run, that if I don't fight through the pain, I am somehow not living up to this awesome gift that has been given me. Guilt that somehow my donor would be seriously disappointed that I haven't climbed Everest or run a marathon, that I haven't gone on to accomplish some miraculous thing... And so I sit and contemplate things that I have no business contemplating, lost in thoughts trying to answer questions I cannot answer and never will, for there are no answers, or the questions aren't mine to answer, not my responsibility.

           So if I make some commitment, some promise to do something or go somewhere and I don't finish the task or arrive on time, please have patience and know that on the inside the war still rages, and most days it ain't pretty... Know too that I did my best, because you don't know what it's like on the front lines.

          War is hell!

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