Monday, July 12, 2010

#224: Patience, patient...

Waiting and doing and waiting. That's what it takes to kill cancer. There are a handful of things to do. Let them shoot your veins full of poison. Take the pills. Soak up the radiation. But in between, there is a lot of waiting. It isn't easy being a patient patient. That's why I'm always making up little things to do. Like peeing out the cancer. Or sweating it out.

Last night, while reading Lance Armstrong's book, It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life I noticed that he did the same thing. Every trip to the bathroom, every cough became a way for him to shove the cancer out of his body.

When you study acting, they teach you that active choices are better than passive ones. It is better to DO something than to try to BE something. I imagine athletes have a similar mindset. That's why I've started calling myself a hunter. I want an active objective to pursue.

Active goals give you focus. They help you stay single-minded. But they can also make you miss some important stuff. Mrs P had a pretty rough weekend too. Watching the man you love puke his brains out every afternoon can do that to you. She really needed someone to be there for her, and I couldn't do it. Coudn't? Wouldn't? I'm not sure. There are times when it seems to take all I have just to keep my own head afloat. That's just a reality that I have to recognize.

But I also know that the woman I love needed something that she didn't get from me. That is the worst part for me. Worse even than losing my teeth. It's watching how the people who love me suffer because of this disease. I've been thinking a lot about what I'm going to do once this cancer is out of my house. I think I owe the universe something. Maybe it's this - maybe I can help the people who love people with cancer. This life demands so much from them. Maybe I can help when the patient runs out of patience. Maybe that's a way I can help to give some meaning to all this hurting I see in my Mum and Mrs P. I'm not sure.

I learned something else while reading. I skipped a step. One of the stages of grief is "bargaining." Like when you say, "OK God, take away my career, but just let me live," or "All right, I won't act anymore, but let me direct." I haven't really gone there. I decided early that if I was gonna make it, there would have to be a reason for me to live, and for me that reason is acting. I made up my mind that I was going to beat cancer and get back on stage. That's not negotiable. Mrs P has already started scanning the casting notices looking for roles for me. I have my eye on a tasty one, but it's a secret. I'll let you know when it happens.

Had a good meeting with the Radiation doctors today. I asked the obvious question - one I guess I haven't had the nerve to ask before. "Am I getting better?" The doc says he thinks so. Not the most committal answer, but I'll take it. Turns out that my particular treatment path is a little hard to measure midstream. If I hadn't had the surgery first, we'd be watching things shrink and disappear. As it is, the stuff we're after is invisible anyway. We're chasing a cell at a time. If chemo were the core of my treatment, we could watch the blood level numbers and they would tell me if things were working. Instead, chemo is really only there to boost the effects of the radiation. And how do we know that the radiation is working? Well, we don't know directly. Indirectly, we can tell that it's killing parts of me. My throat lining, my salivary glands, my  beard. If it's killing all these, it's also killing the cancer. The doc said this morning that if I weren't exhibiting all these negative effects, that would be cause for concern. The irony did not escape me. They know I'm getting better because I'm getting so much worse.

But don't let's overdramatize. I know I'm getting better because I just know. I realize that doesn't make any sense and might just as easilly be wishful thinking as anything, but I can feel my soul getting stronger. The part of me that the radiation can't burn and the cancer can't crowd out is getting more and more grounded every day. That's the change I've been waiting for.


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