“Strange… how quickly comfort and happiness can slip so silently out the crack of your doorway as one sleeps. A world of peace, suddenly disturbed from its slumber by mental and physical torment of an ongoing battle that was pushed so effortlessly to the sidelines of the mind. Balance, equilibrium, are words that I once understood so well, words that I must fight desperately to understand again. If I can just maintain a center of gravity I must be able ...
to stumble forward through this dizzying nightmare of poison, drugs and pain.
Treatment apparently acts as a catalyst to the writer blocked mind. The fog of war creeps over every other aspect of my life. A polar shift must take place, as the warrior needs to rise from his slumber and the lover is sent back to hibernation. An awkward transition for myself and loved ones who are along for the ride. A normally warm, chatty, laughing individual is replaced by a stern, focused automaton with the mission being his only goal and writing the only release for trapped emotions.” – August 11, 2013 2:15 PM
My own mind is treated to a beautiful flowing transition of words that pain creates. Soliloquies simply streaming through my numbed finger tips and explode like a bomb of emotions onto the backlit screen. Amazing, how beautiful the human mind is and what color and vibrance can be brought from the deepest, darkest of depressions. Depression… a very odd, frustrating place, where one is in a constant state of losing an argument with ones own self. A place where sometimes you are guided by the smallest light, a figurative match head leading dragged feat up a never ending stair case of cavernous depths. A temptation of taking what seems the lesser pain to burn ones fingertips and snub out the light. To allow oneself to fall into darkness. To fall into peace?
Terrifying to read that isn’t it? What is more scary is how many of you just identified with that feeling? That at one point in your life, that logic actually seemed sound. That some of you are thinking right this second, “I would have already given up if I were him,” or “I want to give up.” When that quote was written I was five days into my first cycle of chemo and in a very losing battle to withdrawal symptoms of steroids. Steroids that were prescribed to go hand in hand with a drug to manage chemo side effects and make things “easier.” At the time, I did not know the cause, I only “knew” two things: 1. I need this figurative transition to take place. Where a stronger more patient me suddenly sheds his cocoon. 2. If this metamorphosis doesn’t happen, I’m not going to make it to tomorrow, how will I make it through 6 months of treatment…
Yet, here I am. How? Why? I obviously made it to tomorrow. I don’t pretend to have all the answers but, I do know this. I have had 8 months of scattered breaks to treatment out of the past 27. Do you know what I remember? No, its not the feeling of a needle digging endlessly for a vein, or fatigue, or endless hours spent stuck to the bathroom floor. What I remember, what I see is my friends and family smiling ear to ear at my wedding as my bride twirls in front of me on the dance floor. Amanda’s eyes sparkling with excitement as the lights dim and actors take their places for a Las Vegas show to begin. Playing frisbee with my Dad as Oakley jumps and makes his very first of many amazing catches. Talking about adventures in the latest book with my Mom, Grandmother or Sister. The cool breeze off a lake on a fall afternoon hike. Miley nestled in my lap as I get lost in another novel. So maybe there is your answer? That no matter what horrors you may experience, the beautiful memories will shine through. That my inner warrior came out and will take beating after beating after beating because it knows eventually there will be some moment, some spark of happiness and all the evil will be wiped away again. That smiles no matter how infrequent will always outweigh tears. That life if given the opportunity and patience will always provide the peace you were looking for.
All my love,
p.s. Depression is a scary place, what is most terrifying about it is that at your breaking point you are no longer scared. You are willing. The path to light for me has always been patience. Take one baby step forward at a time, maybe its one day or one week but, eventually you will look back and see how far you have traveled and the amazing, beautiful things you have accomplished and experienced. Look into a loved ones eyes, whether it be a friend, family, spouse, or even a pet and see how much you mean to them. Remember all the beautiful things you have experienced together and visualize all the things you want to experience. Pretend that they are going to happen, daydream about it, believe they will happen. They will.
Health Update: Last scan showed what I expected, the cancer is responding well to chemotherapy again. CEA was indicative of that at 4.2 and still falling. Tumors in my lungs and liver are all shrinking or stable. The largest is only a few millimeters. My oncologist says there is no threat and as of now we can treat this like a chronic illness forever as long as I respond to chemotherapy. The good thing is if I were to grow a resistance to any, there are plenty of other cocktails of chemo out there. Of course I don’t want to be on chemo forever as it has its own side effects. They are making major headway in genetics and immunotherapy drugs. There is a possibility of me partaking in a clinical trial early-mid next year involving some of these immunotherapy drugs. As of right now it is up in the air and I am of course weighing my options and researching heavily (opinions always welcome.) As for my mental health, I am doing great. I was able to restrict some of the drugs that caused withdrawal symptoms. Of course there are periods of time where I struggle to grasp onto positives but, I practice as I preach and remain patient and the sun always rises again.