The road less traveled

Each weekly chemo, I am forced to face the “end zone” of this disease. I am faced with the horrible way the once healthy bodies decay both in mind and body. A cancer friend asked me the other day, “why can’t they find something less toxic on our body and why is this disease so horrible”. Despite the goal to survive with dignity, the disease battles with you to win. Forget the hair loss, it is a game that I choose to ignore weekly when I visit the chemo closets of Hoag or UCLA. Then, there are the message boards where I only post answers and don’t follow responses since it is inevitable that there is one who has given up fighting or another who thinks “it is their time”. I stopped looking at my list of friends on the message boards because reviewing it also shows the path of destruction of this disease. I choose not to delete them from my list as they are part of my journey. Each week, there is another fallen warrior. Then, there are my weekly blood draws and IV infusions. I am now “famous” for how I approach the cancer, so nurses ask me to speak to other patients. Again, I am faced almost like a nurse with what is ahead for some. I cheer them on, but some are too tired and too sick to fight for themselves. You can’t help but to reflect on your own journey and glimpse into this path that is better ignored during the fight. A flash of ideas flood my mind on what I would do or what I would say. Often others don’t have my cheerleaders, my family, my rock star husband, and my son. I am constantly surrounded by the knowing glances, the particular nod, the look of defeat, the skeletal bodies, and some are with some hope while others forgot the word. Even though my cousin Margie is gone, she is still with me with her laughter and funny comments about the side effects of the cancer. Each person battles their own war on this disease. While I choose to look at today and continue to have hope, others choose another road.  I try not to look ahead at the predictable nature of cancer since I feel I am not so predictable. I refuse to get bogged down with the visual destruction of the disease that I face daily. Of course, the nature of this post is that the images and people creep into my daily world. It is this ongoing battle that no one mentions. You do your daily battle with the chemo, the side effects, the insurance, the doctors, the crazy infusion centers, your next plan to stay ahead of the disease, but the rest is all out there too and waiting to suck you into it. Often your fight for survival is more of a mind game. You close your eyes to the images, focus less on words of “give up” and focus on what is happening now. I focus on how I am not in pain and am more present than I have ever been since 2010. I was not a match for the tissue sample for the tcell trial. Instead of focusing on the impersonal response to the fact that I was not a “winner” in this trial, I choose to focus on the other list of drugs I can try. It wasn’t a lot, but it is small list. Yes, life of chemo is not what I want, but I am almost managing my side effects. Is it frustrating and annoying? Of course, I am frustrated and very annoyed. I cannot choose the path without hope. I choose to fight every day and help those without cheerleaders. Sometimes you have to know and accept that you have said all you could and focus on your own survival. I always said cancer is a selfish disease. I focus on what my cousin Margie wrote in one of our favorite books, There is No Place like Hope, “your wonderful attitude will continue to help you heal, and hope!” I choose my own path to never ever give up and enjoy each day to the max. This is proving to be more of a challenge living with a tween who is just annoyed with my every day questions and joy of the simple things. I will also choose to ignore his glaring looks and rolling eyes. I will focus on his laughter and his glimpse into who he is trying to become when he holds my hand and tells me, “it is okay mom, you can do this!”

3 Responses to “The road less traveled”

  1. Sandra Ransinangue Says:

    And yes you can!!!!! We are rooting for you every step of the way Joanie!

  2. Dan Orlikoff Says:

    You are a superstar to many and an inspiration to all. Love you much, never give up.

  3. Elina Says:

    You are amazing! NEGU

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