Sunday, September 26, 2010

How Are You..... Really?

Several times over as many months I have spoken with acquaintances that I don’t talk to very often. All asked the same question, how are you? All know that I am dealing with cancer, again.

So, I give my usual response, I am really doing well, which is also an honest response. Then they will ask, how are you feeling. Again, I iterate that I am really feeling pretty good. Sometimes tired, but overall, I am doing well. The conversation may go on to other things, but then the person says, well it all sounds good, but I’d like to know how you are, really!

The last time I was asked this question I lost it. My response was something like: What would you like me to say? I am really doing fine; trying to live each day and enjoy the life I have left. I don’t believe in dwelling on the negative and becoming morose over my fate. I choose to live…. Mind you, I said all this with much frustration and anger in my voice.

Why do people who I see and speak to so rarely think that they can illicit some deep, emotional response from me about my situation? Is it arrogance or just plain ignorance that causes one to believe that people are so ready to share their deepest feelings and fears with mere acquaintances? I have enough trouble thinking about these things myself, don’t like to talk about them – period – why would I want to open up to someone who shares so little of my life?

You may be thinking that I am overreacting here, but think about it! I mean there are a lot of questions one can ask a cancer victim. How are you is fine – so is:
  • How are you handling the chemo?
  • How frequently do you receive treatments?
  • Are you able to continue working, go out, travel?
I guess it is our job to educate those folks who really are concerned but don’t quite know what to say. When Doug passed, the pastor of our church where the services were held made an interesting observation. He told me that guests would be unsure and somewhat awkward, not knowing what to say to me and Lauren, and that we would be spending our efforts trying to put them at ease. That was, in fact, the case. I guess talking to a cancer patient is a similar conversation. People aren’t sure what to say and feel awkward. It is fortunate that most people can read signals, and when someone changes the subject, realizes it is time to shift the conversation.

So, you all may be wondering how I am, really. I did speak to my oncologist Thursday who gave me the results of the scans. The pain in my hip is osteoarthritis. The bone mets have remained stable (actually appear healed). There is some additional activity in my liver, though, so she is changing my treatment plan. I did not receive chemo on Thursday, and am waiting for the new treatment to be approved. One of the drugs is in pill form. I do not have prescription coverage and the pills cost $25.00 each and I would have to take four a day for about two/three weeks a month. The social worker is applying to the pharmaceutical company to see if they will provide the drugs to me directly at a reduced cost. Hopefully all of this will be resolved this week so treatments can resume quickly.

I am trying to stay positive, I feel slightly physically ill over the news and I really don’t want to talk about it with anybody! I guess that is how I deal with things; suck it up and cope. If I talk about it I will probably cry – and I don’t want to do that either. Maybe a doctor would say this is not healthy. I find if I make an effort to get past the fear and self-pity, I can actually manage to accomplish something constructive or do something I can enjoy – even if it is just watching a goofy movie on TV, and eek out another good day.

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