where the writers are
Friday: March 23, 2012

Forgive me, readers, for the gap in this narrative. I've not been able to write and am unsure I have much to say.

The last month has been far more difficult than I'd ever imagined. They told me the effects of treatment were “cumulative.” What they didn't explain was how that accumulation would become a crushing weight.

I've become enveloped by a shroud of fear and lethargy. As I told my friend, Paul: “I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

I had two really bad weeks and one slightly better week after Round 3 of chemo. I should have been writing during the slightly better week but became distracted by family matters and personal struggles. The inkwell of my creative (and spiritual) soul seemed to have run dry.

I hate whining. When you step between the lines, you play your game, dammit. No one wants to hear your candy-ass excuses. Leave it out on the field or just stay the fuck at home.

Those sentences might have comedic value were it not for the ugly truth – my ugly truth – hiding in the cracks and crevices of the type that forms those words.

Okay. Let's take a cleansing breath. Find some positives.

Yesterday, God willing, was my last chemotherapy treatment. A good thing. Yet I find no sense of accomplishment in that, only mild relief that it's over.

And tomorrow is the last of the 40 radiation treatments to my chest. There is some hope that the end of radiation will shorten the chemo recovery time. That leaves me a month before I return to The Big Machine to have my brain zapped 15 times over a three-week period.

“Whole brain radiation” is now standard protocol for small-cell lung cancer. The brain is typically the next rest stop on lung cancer's highway to hell.

I have two scans next month that will show whether or not cancer has been kept at bay. I do not look forward to them. The foreboding possibilities, my personal sword of Damocles, keep me frightened.

Finally, the blood clot drama may not be over. I'll be undergoing stress tests in May at the Clinic to find out why my left foot and ankle still go numb, although preliminary tests show that blood flow in the leg is fine.

The vascular surgeon, Dr. Clair, suspects the problem might be a narrowing of the arteries somewhere higher in my body. If that's the case, he said, an angioplasty might be needed. I shouldn't be surprised given my history of smoking and high (bad) cholesterol count.

I apologize that this post looks like a transcript of an 85-year-old sharing  his medical calamities, but that's what my life has become.

There is no pride to be found in my suffering. Only suffering.

I intended for this journal to show smokers the ugliness of lung cancer treatment. This is for you, smokers. Read it and weep.





4 Comment count
Comment Bubble Tip

Hard to comment


Cancer has represented the dragon I've hoped would be slain in my lifetime since I lost my mom.  I lost my best friend as well as a number of others. Many of those I've loved have gone through cancer treatment.  It isn't any easier to read about than it is to witness.  I'm sure it's worse to undergo.  

I can't say I love reading about the subject, but I love your writing.  I admire and applaud your courage and your selflessness.  

Thanks for writing this journal and for publishing it.  It needs to be passed along.



Comment Bubble Tip

Mark, you have a great deal to say ~

and there are no apolgies needed, certainly not about what you're enduring or your age or tone.

One of my greatest laments about our lives is the lack of an owner's manual about our bodies, and what happens from the treatment point of view to cope with the treatments.  

I've had so many friends and acquintances suffer cancer and endure treatment.  Some died, some survived.  Most were reluctant to discuss it and it's not good form or good taste to ask for details.

So your posts have been illuminating.  Like Jane, I can't say that I love reading them but they're sharply, intelligently written, with boldness and courage.  As you said, it needs to be passed on to the young contemplating smoking or those that eschew regulating all the chemicals we use that could be carcinogenic because we can't have our profits reduced.  In your words are the price that many paid in order to shave costs.

But beyond this, your post about your pain and struggles help me find my balance.  It's one of the multiple compasses that I use to find direction and keep on going.

Thank you for sharing.   M

Comment Bubble Tip

thank you both

It is attentive readers like the two of you who help push through me through the rest of the narrative. Happy Easter.


Comment Bubble Tip

I agree with Jane and

I agree with Jane and Michael.  They are hard to read because of their context; not simply their content.  

And I am going to be perfectly frank:  I am not prone to displays of emotion or compassion that are not completely authentic.   Because if I was cooing over someone's hardship when I didn't REALLY feel emotionally affected, I would hate myself.  Because my actions would be more about me and my ego than about genuine caring.  

But you--in writing with such complete and total honesty--have painted a picture that I could step right into, and--in so doing--have afforded me the opportunity to totally connect with what you're going through.  And fall in beside you--expressing authentic compassion--on this vicious trek.     

I just wanted you to know that it's a great thing you're doing here.  For all of us.