Yesterday school was cancelled and we did our best to stay snug in the house as a blizzard roared outside. More inclement weather was brewing inside, as we’ve all fought a virus off and on for several weeks now. I’ve developed a cough over the past few days, and ever since my diagnosis, it is hard for me to view this symptom as benign. In addition to worries about recurrent cancer, (always part of the background noise), we are now anxious about H1N1 flu. There has been no shortage of hype regarding this illness and its potential to burrow deep into our lungs. What there has been is a shortage of vaccine, and despite my continued queries, I have been unable to secure a dose for any one of us. You would think that people with lung cancer might be in one of the early tiers, but that is simply not the case.
Anyway, what we are dealing with is likely just a garden variety virus. In addition, the snow petered into sleet last night and today the sun is shining. I always find it easier to have a positive, or sunnier, outlook when that is the case. My attitude is something else I no longer view as inconsequential or benign. When I was initially diagnosed, I was frightened, angry and depressed all at the same time. I didn’t even try to fight these feelings. They, in fact, felt like a totally justified response to the set of circumstances.
Justified or not, once I got all that sadness and rage out of my system, it was time to move on. My dark mood evolved into dark humor, as I once again felt the necessity of laughter. Eventually, heeding the advice of my oncologist, I sought counseling and began taking an antidepressant. Both were extremely helpful to me. At a certain point I felt I no longer needed either the medication or the counseling. However, when it was confirmed that my cancer had spread to both lungs, I needed no urging to return to both practices.
You see, I really want to do whatever I can to promote my survival. I take my medicine, I do my best to eat well and to keep moving (excercise when possible, but just keeping busy when it’s not) and I pay a lot of attention to what is going on in my head.
I read a really interesting quote from the book The Survivor’s Club, by Ben Sherman. He said, “The twin enemies of survival are fear and inflexibility. Fear is demotivating and paralyzing. Inflexibility means that you don’t adapt to the new reality.” Part of my new reality is living with a terminal illness. I really need to be at the top of my game so as not to let that paralyzing fear get the best of me. Having my head in a good place is going to make a big difference when it comes time to weather the storm.