Cancer is a nasty parody of an illness. As it eats away at our bodies, the cancer eats our ability to be ourselves - to act and live and think as we did before it invaded our inner territory. And our bodies won't even fight it, because our internal forces can't see the cancer cells as being Other.

To have terminal cancer is to be the ultimate victim of identity theft.

"We have met the Enemy, and He is Us."*

So we are forced to watch as our internal doppelgänger gradually steals one bit of our life after another, knowing we are unlikely to ever get it back again. Goodbye, goodbye...

My dear friend Roberta, who is dearer to me each day that I get to know her better, is struggling with this particular issue. She expresses it very well in her blog, which I hope you will visit as soon as you are done here (she also has a fascinating blog about sea glass, which you should also check out). I wish I had a satisfactory answer for her complaint. Unfortunately, I can only echo her sentiments, in empathy and solidarity.

Being me, I will probably echo them less gracefully, and most certainly I will echo them less succinctly. I am still that much myself, I guess!

Having rosacea and being way past what anyone could charitably call 'on the sturdy side', I am hardly the gaunt and pallid picture that people have in their heads when they think of someone in our position. They can't see the cancer, and they can't see what it has done, what it has stolen. So few people are inspired to give me their seat or to lift heavy things from the shelves for me or to slow their pace to accommodate my Hips-of-Swiss-Cheese.

It's a struggle to keep up, sometimes. Sometimes I just can't manage it, and I fall behind.

And that's just one of the many things that suck about this situation. Not only do other people expect me to be the Me I Was, I all too often expect myself to be the Me I Was. I get frustrated and tend to beat myself up when I'm not able to do the things I want to do. The things I could do just a few short years or months or weeks ago.

Little by little this damned monster steals it all, and it's not inclined to give anything back.

It's not that we're not grateful for the time we've gotten. It's that we resent the time we won't get. And we resent being forced to watch as it's taken away from us.

We resent being forced to watch as we are taken away from us.


*Walt Kelly, from his comic, 'Pogo', among other things

*This is not intended as whining in the traditional sense; I am not looking for attention, sympathy, or advice. Although I understand the urge to give advice - I am as prone as the next person to give unasked-for advice (more so, probably). But my intention at the beginning of this thing was to give as honest a reflection of my life with cancer as possible, and this is part of that journey.


Nancy K. said...


That was really powerful. Very well said, Eileen!

I hope you enjoy the cooler weather and the break from the storms for a change!

mrspao said...

Hug x

I have just watched Stuart as he went from normal cheery-ish chap to seeing him get weaker and weaker and lose his sight before he slipped away. My heart was breaking when I saw how difficult it had gotten for him and I understand how difficult it must be for you.