Monday, June 13, 2016

On getting my heart broken

Lately, my heart has been broken.
And broken again.
And broken once more.

And I've spent so much time wondering why.
Why do bad things happen?
Why are we so quick to grab our pitchforks?
Why do we not show more compassion?
Why does our anger and hatred run so deep?
Why do I care?
Why do some others seem to not care?

No, this isn't related to anything in my house.
No, this isn't related to cancer.

But current events lately?

They are slowly breaking me.
What fresh hell will we wake up to tomorrow?

It seems to me that even though witch hunts fell out of favor, that even though burning woman at the stake is frowned upon, we as a society have figured out a way to figuratively burn women at the stake.

Make a mistake? Uproar.
Act human? How dare you.
You are not a perfect mother? Then why the hell did you even have children?
And if your child leaves your eye sight for one second? Well, suddenly everyone else has NEVER lost a child and has never felt that panic and take your child away because SHAME ON YOU.
Get raped? Well, why didn't you prevent it better?

On the other hand ...
Oh you raped a woman ...
Well, do you look "nice"?
Are you an athlete?
Do you come from a "good" family?
Oh, well, here's your slap on the wrist and now we will all mourn for the things you have lost. Because maybe now you can't even eat steak anymore, and oh dear, what ever shall we do to make you feel better now?

And then we throw in the oh, you don't like who that person kissed?
Great. Here's a gun that fires more rounds than anyone should ever have a need for.
When the anger gets to be too much? Go and shoot up a bunch of people.
Because they are something that you don't agree with.

The country will mourn.
We'll pray.
We'll send good thoughts.

But nothing will change.

In a few weeks, another woman will make a mistake and be raked across the coals.
Another woman will get raped and people will blame her clothes, what she drank, where she was, and her sexual history. (Or worse, no one will listen and nothing will be done.)
Another man will get a slap on the wrist for raping her. (Or worse, he'll have nothing done because she won't report it, or she won't be believed, or the police won't press charges, or the DNA kit will be placed on an ever growing pile that isn't being tested).
Someone else will take a gun to a bar, a movie theater, a shopping mall, a street, a school, a beach, a concert, a sporting event, somewhere, anywhere.

There is so much hate in this world.
There is so much us vs. them.
There is so little compassion.
There is so much anger.
There is so much division.
There is so little understanding.

And it just feels like we, as a society, will ever do anything to stop it. 
Sure, we throw out platitudes. As if that's ever made a difference.


I don't know where to go from here.
I don't know what to do.

I want to be a voice that speaks out.
I want to be a voice that is compassionate.
I want to be a voice that is understanding.
I want to be a voice that is caring.

I want to stop the hate.
I want to stop the anger.
I want to stop the violence.
I want to stop the hurt.
I want to stop the pain.

It's all rolling around in my head. All these thoughts, all these feelings.
I can't imagine how people who are in the thick of things are feeling about this.

It's so hard to wrap my head around. I just don't understand it. 

Sunday, June 05, 2016

National Cancer Survivorship Day

Today is National Cancer Survivor Day.
Per definition "An individual is considered a cancer survivor from the time of diagnosis, through the balance of his or her life. Family members, friends, and caregivers are also impacted by the survivorship experience and are therefore included in this definition." from the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship.
The minute a doctor tells you that you have cancer, you are considered a survivor. You remain a survivor for the rest of your life.

Many people who are survivors struggle with that term. Even though the term was coined to include those who have incurable cancer, or those who are in active treatment, many people hear survivor and assume that it means a person who completed treatment and no longer has cancer.

And so survivor can feel like an awkward term to call oneself, especially during treatment, especially if you know the cancer you have will probably be what kills you, especially if you do not feel that cancer is a gift.

Not long ago, survivor was expanded to include the family members/care givers of the person with cancer. Many of these people have trouble calling themselves survivors too.

For me, it is a strange place to be in. I'm a "survivor" but I didn't do anything special to be a survivor. I did not do anything to get my cancer and I didn't do anything special to make it go away. Science happened. Something happened in my genes, and some of my cells turned into cancer. Science happened. The doctors gave me standard care and at this moment, the doctors can't detect cancer in my system anymore.

But other people in the same boat, go through the same treatment and the story ends differently. It is hard to accept that it's just luck of the draw.

We as people want to grab onto something. "I don't eat x, so I can't get cancer. I meditate, so I can't get cancer. I sleep 8 hours a day, so I can't get cancer. I never drink y, so I can't get cancer. I pray every day, so I can't get cancer. I exercise, so I can't get cancer." It's natural. IF we can isolate the ONE thing that causes cancer, we can protect ourselves, and our loved ones.

However, cancer has existed long before our modern lifestyle. It predates sugar, and gluten, and pollution, and electricity, and we could keep going and going and going.We have found bodies with cancer that are 3000, 4000, maybe even 7000 years old. 

That's not to say don't be healthy. Because you should be healthy. I think we all know that by now.

And there are ways to reduce your risk of cancer. Reduce. Reduce. Reduce.

There are not ways to eliminate cancer. 

We haven't figured out how to do that yet. 

I wish we had. But we haven't.

So, today on National Cancer Survivors Day, think of your friends and loved ones who have/had cancer. Think of those who are still here, going through treatment. Think of those who are still dealing with the after effects of treatment. Think of their families and the people who care about them. And think of those of us who are missing someone today.

But also, remember, that tomorrow, you could find yourself in this group of survivors. Remember that even though you are healthy, there isn't a guarantee that you won't get cancer. Remember that cancer predates many of the things that people say are giving us cancer. And remember that some of the people you know, struggle with the term survivor - and that's okay. And some of the people you know embrace it fully and wholly - and that's okay.

There are over 15.5 million survivors in the US today. The only connecting thread for these 15.5 million people is that somewhere in their life, a doctor told them they had cancer. We are a group of people with a wide range of feelings on the term "survivor." 

As for me, the term doesn't bother me, but I don't feel a kinship with it either. I suppose I'm ambivalent about it really. Today will be a day like any other. I have nothing special planned. I'm recuperating from a virus I've dealt with all week. I'll watch too much tv. I'll knit some. And I'll go outside to enjoy our beautiful weather. 

For me, today is just any other day. 
Other days in my cancer story, I mark or I celebrate. 
But today, today, is just an ordinary Sunday.